Winnie Harlow is more than a “vitiligo model.” The 23-year-old shut down people who define her by her skin condition, which causes a loss of skin color in blotches, after a magazine published an article in which she was described as a “vitiligo sufferer.”
In an Instagram on Wednesday, the former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant posted a picture of an article by the Evening Standard. The article featured a picture of Harlow in a swimsuit with the caption, “Model Winnie Harlow is seen going for a paddle in the sea off the coast of Dubai in a series of snaps which the Canadian vitiligo sufferer, 23, posted on her Instagram.”
In her own Instagram caption, Harlow lashed out at Evening Standard and other publications that characterize her by her skin condition. She explained that she’s simply a “model”—not a “vitiligo model” or “vitiligo sufferer.”
“@firstname.lastname@example.org and all other tabloids, magazines and people who write articles on me PSA: I’m not a ‘Vitiligo Sufferer’. I’m not a ‘Vitiligo model,'” Harlow wrote. “I am Winnie. I am a model. And i happen to have Vitiligo. Stop putting these titles on me or anyone else.”
She continued by slamming Evening Standard‘s use of the word “sufferer.” Harlow explained that her condition doesn’t hold her back, but makes her unique and encourages others who have similar conditions that they can achieve their dreams too.
“I AM NOT SUFFERING! If anything I’m SUCCEEDING at showing people that their differences don’t make them WHO they are! All our differences are apart of who we are but they don’t define us!” Harlow wrote. “I’m sick of every headline ending in ‘Vitiligo Sufferer’ or “Suffers from Vitiligo’. Do you see me suffering?”
She ended her Instagram by shaming Evening Standard and other publications who have committed the same mistake for perpetuating outdated standards of beauty. She also clarified that Evening Standard‘s picture, which was taken from her Instagram, was actually from a happy moment—not one where she was “suffering.”
“The only thing I’m Suffering from are your headlines and the closed minds of humans who have one beauty standard locked into their minds when there are multiple standards of beauty!” Harlow wrote. “The beach was damn fine that day, nothing to suffer about! 🙄👉🏽”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Fighting against societal standards of beauty is not something you can “suffer” from. We hope outlets like Evening Standard take note and choose their words carefully. Read Harlow’s full Instagram below.