Model Who Was Cruelly Taunted For Having Michael Jackson’s Skin Condition Has The Last Laugh

Sources: Daily Mail | All Things Michael


The fashion industry often comes under fire for promoting a one-size-fits-all idea of beauty with some brands only using models of a certain height and weight for their campaigns.

Diesel, however, is proving a point with its spring/summer 2015 campaign, which aims to promote ‘tolerance, equality and unconditional love’.

The star of the new shoot is, without a doubt, 19-year-old Winnie Harlow who has vitiligo, a pigment condition that causes white patches to form on skin.

Winnie, a former America’s Next Top Model contestant, whose real name is Chantelle Brown-Young, was diagnosed with vitiligo around the age of four.

She was cruelly nicknamed ‘zebra’ and ‘cow’ because of the white patches covering her face and body growing up.

Michael Jackson famously had the same condition and explained his pale complexion was a result of the lack of melanin in his skin.



Prince Jackson

Now Winnie, who describes her self as a ‘vitiligo spokesmodel’ on Instagram, is being celebrated for her distinctive look.

She has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and she was recently invited back to her high school to do a motivational talk with students touching on the discrimination she faced.

Winnie first spoke publicly about her skin condition in 2011 by posting a video to YouTube titled ‘Vitiligo: A Skin Condition not a Life Changer’.

Although then just 17, she eloquently told viewers: ‘People have black skin, people have brown skin, I have both.


‘When I got older, it got harder because when kids get older they get meaner, so I went through a lot of bullying and people calling me like zebra or cow so it was really hard growing up.’

She said at certain points she was plagued with suicidal thoughts but found the strength to pull through. Moving from California to Canada with her family also provided the opportunity for a fresh start.

After ‘blossoming’, Winnie said she found it strange when people started telling her how beautiful she was.

‘I’ll turn pink and say “thank you so much,'” the teenager giggled.

She says that things have worked in her favour because she accepts her originality and has used it to her advantage.

‘I loved myself. And with that, opportunities start to fall into my lap. And I thank God for all of them. Try loving yourself,’ she concluded.

As well as starring on America’s Next Top Model, she walked in Ashish’s catwalk show in London and starred in a SHOWStudio campaign.

This Diesel campaign is the latest string to her bow.


Conceived by creative director Nicola Formichetti and styled by Anna Trevelyan, the campaign aims to be provocative and optimistic, inspiring people to live life in the moment and to enjoy the ride.

Speaking about the campaign, which also stars alternative model Charlotte Free, Nicola said: ‘There are so many crazy things happening now that you don’t see people just having fun any more.

‘The challenge was to work with an avant-garde photographer, Nick Knight, and get him to do something he’s rarely done – which is shoot people smiling.

‘It feels spontaneous, like they are selfies and he’s just the one snapping the photo.’


Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that determines the color of skin, die or stop functioning.

This causes slowly enlarging white patches of irregular shapes to appear on the skin over time.

Vitiligo affects all races, but may be more noticeable in people with darker skin.

The exact cause of the condition is unknown, although many experts believe that it is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys certain cells.

There is no cure and the goal of treatment, which can include ointments and skin grafts, is to stop or slow the progression of pigment loss.

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