Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery?: Winnie Harlow Defends Fans That Imitated Her Skin Condition

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Chantelle Brown-Young aka Winnie Harlow, a new face in fashion, is slowly, but surely becoming a powerhouse in the fashion industry. Harlow gained notoriety after competing on Cycle 21 of ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ Harlow placed fifth in the competition, but she is definitely placing first at this moment in her life. From being apart of fashion campaigns for Desigual and Diesel to landing on the cover of Ebony Magazine’s September issue, Harlow is on her way!


However, when Harlow isn’t making waves on the fashion scene she is making waves on the social media circuit.

Harlow has sparked some controversy via the internet after she came to the defense of her fans (mostly in reference to her white fans) that have taken to using makeup to mimic Winnie’s skin condition, Vitiligo. (Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes a person’s skin to lose it’s pigmentation).

Harlow defended her supporters who have taken to using makeup to create the look of Harlow’s skin condition on their own bodies after some people accused the people creating the looks of participating in blackface.

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My response to this is probably not what a lot of people want but here it goes: every time someone wants fuller lips, or a bigger bum, or curly hair, or braids does Not mean our culture is being stolen. Have you ever stop to realize these things used to be ridiculed and now they're loved and lusted over. No one wants to "steal" our look here. We've just stood so confidently in our own nappy hair and du-rags and big asses (or in this case, my skin) that now those who don't have it love and lust after it. Just because a black girl wears blue contacts and long weave doesn't mean she wants to be white and just because a white girl wears braids and gets lip injection doesn't mean she wants to be black. The amount of mixed races in this world is living proof that we don't want to be each other we've just gained a national love for each other. Why can't we embrace that feeling of love? Why do we have to make it a hate crime? In a time when so much negative is happening, please don't accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful. It is very clear to me when someone is showing love and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over #1LOVE 💋

A post shared by ♔Winnie Harlow♔ (@winnieharlow) on

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😴😴 never been called such derogatory slurs so repetitively.. By the the same people trying to nail me, but sound pretty backward with words of "coon" "white washed bitch" "brain washed nigga"… Actually sound stupid as hell with "she's not even really black" 😐 what is it called when your mother and father are Black..? Sigh. The point here is Not to make it seem that Blackface is okay, or act like our people haven't gone through hell and back to then have things from our culture be stolen. #BlackLivesMatter This is Very true. But This situation has nothing to do with blacks or whites. All races have recreated the pattern of my skin and when they did it, it was complimented and glorified. This is Not appropriation, go look up the definition real quick! And it barely has anything to do with Vitiligo to be honest. People bash my fans who get my face tattooed on their bodies. It's not actually about me or anyone else. It's about a feeling I've created, and what I represent to whoever draws me, tattoos me or recreates my look (regardless of race!). It's about the hope the pattern of my skin represents to THEM, it's You who places a negative on it. It's the representation of not being afraid to be proud of who you are not just a "disease" as you so disablingly call it. I know my history. If you know ANY black Canadian you would know we all know our roots and are proud of where we're originally from. But we also don't live in the past. We are in the present creating a new future and even if it's a slow progression we're having, why can't we continue? Our ancestors didn't go through bullshit their whole lives for us to sit here and stay bitter or hoard our culture. The fight was never to Keep us segregated. It was to allow us to come together. So while a Lot of things in this world are wrong (and No I don't support "Blackface"), a lot of things, including many intentions, are pure. Use common sense (and the definition…) to know the difference of appreciation and appropriation. Alright mi done talk!! Unno cyan gwan now and flip my words however u please 😎👑✌🏾️ #1Love

A post shared by ♔Winnie Harlow♔ (@winnieharlow) on

Some of the responses people made in reference to Harlow’s posts:

A note from TBA:

Despite what many have said Harlow is still sticking with her opinion and quite honestly  we see where Harlow is coming from.

Yes! People dressing up in ‘blackface’ is WRONG and we in no way, shape, or form condone that kind of behavior, but we have to say that is pretty amazing that Harlow a once insecure woman with a skin condition that very few understand has gone on to ignite a flame in people to where she is a face that they want to imitate. We can only imagine how it feels to have people of different races be so into who you are that they want to look like you. A person that the world would not define as a model, or maybe not even pretty and people want to look like her.

It’s amazing that a girl that no one knew a year or two ago has people of different races imitating her face. Not out of a place of malice or bullying, but out of a place of appreciation and beauty and if that’s not beautiful to you then hey to each his own.

Either way Winnie Harlow is still winning:


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