Winnie Harlow has proven time and time again she is not one for holding her tongue, especially when she believes something needs to be corrected. In a recent essay for Glamour, Harlow shared that the modeling industry is changing but similar to many industries, it still has a long way to go.
She wrote about when she first broke into the modeling scene it was 2013, during a time she recalls being the beginning of diverse models being hired for larger scale projects.
"Right now it’s so beautiful that there are so many different people and so many different sizes and all that [represented]. Growing up, I would never have imagined someone with vitiligo or freckles on the cover of a magazine. Just the fact that Adwoa [Aboah]’s gorgeous face is on the cover of British Vogue, which I’m literally looking at right now, wouldn’t have happened before," Harlow exclaimed.
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Even Harlow herself has broken barriers in the industry as a model who has vitiligo, but even with the current shift, Harlow still finds herself running into situations such as a recent photo of her in the Evening Standard which labeled her as a "vitiligo sufferer."
"We have to keep educating people. When the Evening Standard ran a picture of me with a caption describing me as a vitiligo 'sufferer,' it tore me to shreds. I said to my agent, 'WTF. Again? Is this a joke?' That’s how I feel every single time I see that word placed beside my name," Harlow told Glamour. "It’s something I see often, so I felt like I should say something. Just because you see someone with whatever it is, even a pimple, you don’t get to say that they are suffering. It’s very rude for anyone to describe me as a sufferer, and it takes away from everything else — I’m 100 percent excelling in everything I do."
And continuing on the line of educating others, Harlow said the inclusiveness of hairdressers and makeup artists for models of color is still lackluster in the world of high fashion.
"…with hairdressers — just because you’ve worked on one black person’s hair doesn’t mean you know all black hair. If you’ve worked on Naomi Campbell, that’s not the same as working on kinky hair. There are so many people who are like, 'Yeah! I’ve worked on a black girl before. I know black hair.' And then they still reach for the tongs or use too high a heat," Harlow began.
"With makeup artists, we need to have more people who know how to work with someone with a dark skin tone and not have it turn gray or ashy. Even this past Fashion Week, I was backstage and put in front of a makeup artist and I looked at the range of tones she had — she didn’t even have colors dark enough for my skin. If you don’t even have shades dark enough for me, that’s saying a lot."
Overall, the 23-year-old supermodel is embracing the diverse changes that are making headway in the fashion world, but she sees room for improvement, especially in the way society typecasts beauty.
"Today I represent a different standard of what people traditionally consider beauty. Sometimes I say there are a million different standards of beauty; sometimes I say there are no standards of beauty. In the end, it’s the same thing: We’re all beautiful."