As a lifelong suffer of Piebaldism, a rare pigmentation disorder, the recent glamorisation of similar disorders has come as a shock to me. Thanks to Winnie Harlow, a model with Vitiligo, such disorders have been brought to the forefront of media attention. Last week, Harlow caused great controversy by praising young girls for using make-up to imitate her condition.
Is it wrong to imitate the imperfections of others? Or does it highlight a new trend for embracing individuality?
Years spent covering my skin with fake tan and make-up, or plucking out white hairs in an effort to fit in has seemed an endless battle. But when Winnie Harlow became a big name in fashion by modelling for brands such as Desigual and Diesel, she brought confidence and a sense of pride to sufferers just like me. However, when young girls began to imitate Winnie’s Vitiligo, for many it was a step too far, with some viewing it as an offensive mimic and a form of ‘blackface’. Winnie’s response on Instagram was therefore unexpected.
Winnie went on to say;
I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over
While many disagree with how Winnie has dealt with being mimicked and copied, I admire her appreciation of people lusting over what has too often marginalised others. For me, Winnie encompasses everything that is good about the fashion industry, the ability to create an identity, the power to accept who we are, and to embrace each other’s differences. If someone was to tell me as a child that one day girls would lust over skin like mine, I wouldn’t have believed it. The fact that there are people embracing the imperfections and individuality of others, only serves to highlight the progression society has made in accepting those different from ourselves.