By Taylor Bryant
Winnie Harlow, the Canadian model with vitiligo, has been making waves on the fashion scene ever since her run on America’s Next Top model. She was the most talked about model at Fashion Week last season, landing campaigns with both Desigual and Diesel. Her fame has gained her a hoard of admirers, some of whom have even taken their adoration as far as imitating her skin condition.
Many fans, some white, are posting images to social media wearing makeup to look like Harlow. While these women’s intentions were meant to be a form of support and idolization, others are outraged with the act, comparing it to blackface. Harlow herself, on the other hand, says she appreciates these women’s actions. She posted to Instagram a response that many did not expect, nor appreciate.
“Every time someone wants fuller lips, or a bigger bum, or curly hair, or braids does Not mean our culture is being stolen. Have you ever stop to realize these things used to be ridiculed and now they’re loved and lusted over. No one wants to ‘steal’ our look here,” she wrote. “Just because a black girl wears blue contacts and long weave doesn’t mean she wants to be white and just because a white girl wears braids and gets lip injection doesn’t mean she wants to be black….In a time when so much negative is happening, please don’t accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful.”
This message didn’t go over well with a lot of people — many calling her ignorant and out of touch — so Harlow posted a second response soon after: “I agree & am knowledgeable to these things. & by all means I get it. But It’s one thing to recreate my skin & wear a crown in a photo, & it’s another to recreate my face & then wear a noose (which is not the case),” she wrote. “There’s this fine line between stealing & showing appreciation or seeing that something’s are being accepted by the world. There are things that have been taken without recognition (from Art, to culture, to language and beyond and from many races including our own), this is not one of them.”
A photo posted by ♔Chantelle Winnie♔ (@winnieharlow) on Aug 24, 2015 at 7:31am PDT
Just this morning, Harlow took to Instagram one last time, addressing the hypocrisy of those who have called her derogatory terms like “white washed.” “The point here is Not to make it seem that Blackface is okay, or act like our people haven’t gone through hell and back to then have things from our culture be stolen. #BlackLivesMatter This is Very true,” she wrote. “But This situation has nothing to do with blacks or whites. All races have recreated the pattern of my skin and when they did it, it was complimented and glorified.”
What do you think of the debacle? Is Harlow in the wrong, or do you support her stance? Sound off in the comments.
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