In a recent interview with CNN’s Style, Canadian model Winnie Harlow shares how she overcame bullying as a child, discrimination and prejudice within the fashion industry and the effectiveness of social media when it is used as a positive tool. The former ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) contestant also discusses how she got into the fashion industry.
At the tender age of 4, Harlow was diagnosed with a skin disease that causes color patches, called “Vitiligo.” The disease is incurable and as a result, Harlow experienced bullying as a child, dropped out of high school and was home-schooled. Check out some excerpts from her interview.
Her response when asked how she overcame being bullied as child:
Dropping out of high school was possibly the best thing that could have happened, because I found a rejuvenated sense of self. I learned to love who I am despite what anyone would say about or to me. This gave me the courage to really stand up to anyone or any obstacle in my life.
Her response when asked about discrimination and prejudice in the fashion industry:
I think the industry is opening up but still needs to accept various forms of beauty as a standard, as opposed to an occurrence now and then. I want to see different faces on the covers of magazines, the stars of movies, featured on billboards… It’s time we open the market up and embrace people from all walks of life.
Her thoughts regarding the affects of social media when it comes to changing and developing concepts of beauty:
I think it helps. Social media when used positively and correctly can act as a great tool for you to meet people from around the world and ultimately share what you have to offer.
How she got into fashion:
To be completely honest I never thought I could become a model growing up. I actually wanted to be an entertainment journalist. I started pursuing modeling after I had an interview with a Toronto Photographer, Shannon Boodram, and she encouraged me to continue pushing. From there I started to build myself up by leveraging social media. When “America’s Next Top Model” (ANTM) was casting for the new season I asked all my fans online to tag Tyra Banks so she could see my photos — and they did! My little sister started a Facebook page for me and one of the producers from the show sent a message showing interest. Initially I didn’t believe it but I followed through and ended up being on the show for season 21. After Tyra gave me that opportunity it was my time.
Read the full interview here.