Aug 24, 2015 12:29PM

Winnie Harlow Defends Admirers Accused Of Blackface, Things Get Awkward Fast


Chantelle Brown-Young aka Winnie Harlow has become a poster girl for diversity in modelling, scoring major campaigns and delivering TED talks since she appeared on cycle 21 of America's Next Top Model. The 21-year-old stunner, who has a skin condition called vitiligo, has challenged traditional beauty standards by being totally cool with her differences (as she should be).

Winnie has lots of fans on the internet, some of which have been expressing their support for her by imitating the pattern of her vitiligo with make-up.

This makes us feel uncomfortable on a lot of levels, but Winnie spoken out to defend fans who've been imitating her skin condition, posting the following response to claims that fans were doing blackface on Instagram yesterday. 

"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 realise 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 move that puts her strongly on one side of the cultural appropriation debate that Amandla Stenburg thrust back into the front of our minds earlier this year. The posts have drawn mixed responses from the internet with some taking a more wtf stand point and others defending her comments.

Winnie also re-emphasised her argument by drawing attention to black women who have mimicked her look.

We're all for celebrating diversity but as a rule people should probably not mimic rare skin conditions and avoid majorly offending people where possible. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Photos: Tumblr, Twitter and @winnieharlow

Lucy Jones