Quem vê Winnie Harlow super confiante em suas fotos no Instagram, não faz ideia de tudo que a modelo teve que superar ao longo da vida para chegar onde está. Antes de ser conhecida como Winnie Hallow, seu nome era Chantelle Brown-Young, ela nasceu em Toronto, Canadá, onde passou a infância junto com duas irmãs e quatro irmãos.

Aos 4 anos de idade, Winnie foi diagnosticada com vitiligo, uma doença que causa a perda da pigmentação da pele, gerando manchas brancas pelo corpo. Apesar do diagnóstico, sua família fez questão de tratá-la como se nada fosse diferente, e sua mãe a criou para que se tornasse uma mulher confiante e independente.

Foi quando Winnie entrou para a escola que as coisas começaram a mudar. As crianças tiravam sarro dela por suas marcas e a modelo perdeu boa parte da autoestima. Ela mudou de escola várias vezes, perdeu amigas por causa do preconceito dos pais e era chamada de “zebra” e “vaca” pelos colegas.

Imagem: Branislav Simoncik

Aos 14 anos, por causa de anos do bullying, Winnie chegou a cogitar cometer suicídio e decidiu sair da escola antes que sua saúde mental piorasse. “Acho que nasci confiante, mas foi algo que perdi quando as pessoas me fizeram sentir que era algo que eu não deveria ser”, disse a modelo.

Quando criança, Winnie fazia aulas de balé e tocava piano, mas nunca havia pensado que poderia ser modelo, principalmente porque não havia nenhuma mulher nas revistas e comerciais parecida com ela, “Durante muito tempo achei que era a única pessoa na terra com vitiligo”.

Ela entrou para a carreira por causa do apoio de amigos e da mãe que a incentivaram. Assim, ela foi fotografada algumas vezes e desfilou para marcas pequenas. Aos 19 anos, foi descoberta pela supermodelo Tyra Banks, que a escalou para fazer parte de seu reality show America’s Next Top Model. “Sua beleza é inegável e sua pele quebra barreiras do que é considerado belo”, disse Tyra.

Tyra Banks e Winnie

Winnie foi uma das finalistas do programa, mas não venceu a temporada. Apesar disso, com a visibilidade do programa, ela começou a ser chamada para participar de campanhas para diversas marcas. Suas fotos para a grife Diesel, onde ela aparecia apenas de jeans e top, ficaram famosas e sua carreira decolou cada vez mais.

Hoje, Winnie é uma modelo reconhecida, que já participou de campanhas para diversas marcas, estampou mais de 20 capas de revista e participou de vídeos de vários artistas como Eminem e Beyoncé. Em 2018, Winnie participou do desfile da Victoria’s Secret, trazendo um pouco mais de diversidade para a passarela.

Winnie Harlow desfilando no Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show pela primeira vez

Apesar de ser ativista e ficar feliz em representar mulheres jovens que também têm vitiligo, a modelo não gosta de ser rotulada como “a modelo com vitiligo”.

No começo deste ano, um jornal britânico publicou uma foto dela como a legenda dizendo que ela era uma modelo que “sofria” de vitiligo. Winnie se pronunciou em suas redes sociais dizendo que ela não sofre por ter vitiligo e estava cansada de ser rotulada dessa forma. “É parte de mim, mas não é tudo que eu sou, isso não me define”, disse Winnie.

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