Winnie Harlow has called out The Evening Standard for calling her a “vitiligo sufferer” in a caption under a photograph of her in a bikini.
On her Instagram, the 23-year-old model shared with her 3 million followers her thoughts on being someone whose vitiligo is being fetishised as suffering.
“I’m not a ‘Vitiligo Sufferer’. I’m not a ‘Vitiligo model’. I am Winnie. I am a model. And I happen to have Vitiligo. Stop putting these titles on me or anyone else. I am not suffering! If anything I’m succeeding at showing people that their differences don’t make them who they are,” she wrote.
Vitiligo, a condition where pale white patches develop on the skin, is rarely represented in fashion shoots. Harlow previously told HuffPost UK she believes people we rely too much on magazines to tell us what beauty is, when we need to learn that at home.
“What’s more important is what a family allows a child to see,” she said. “So for me, when I grew up we still didn’t have much internet and we still didn’t have black dolls. So my mum would go out of her way to find those dolls and bring them into the house to show me that there was someone who looks like you.
“And it’s not like she only bought me black dolls or dolls with curly hair. She still bought me blonde and blue-eye dolls in order to instill in me that there wasn’t supposed to be a segregation.”
In her Instagram post aimed at The Evening Standard she added: “All our differences are a part of who we are but they don’t define us! Do you see me 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.”
The photo of Harlow featured in the newspaper was taken on the beach in Dubai. She added: “The beach was damn fine that day, nothing to suffer about”.
HuffPost UK has contacted the Evening Standard for comment and will update this article upon their response.