Model With Vitiligo Doesn’t See Anything Wrong With White Woman Imitating Her Skin Condition With ‘Blackface’

Model Winnie Harlow has her hair styled before presenting a creation by Desigual during New York Fashion Week Feb. 12, 2015, in New York.
Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian model Winnie Harlow, who got her start on America’s Next Top Model, has a skin condition that hasn’t gotten in the way of her modeling career. Harlow’s vitiligo has made her one of the modeling world’s most recognizable faces. So recognizable that white women are now imitating her “look.”

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Harlow has been outspoken about the ridicule she faced as a child growing up with the skin disorder. But though most people have called out the white women as engaging in blackface and appropriation, Harlow has taken a different stance on the issue. It seems that Harlow doesn’t see anything wrong with women painting their faces black, or pretending that they have vitiligo themselves.

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Harlow posted her stance on Instagram:

My response to this is probably not what a lot of people want but here it goes: 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. We’ve just stood so confidently in our own nappy hair and du-rags and big asses (or in this case, my skin) that now those who don’t have it love and lust after it. 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. The amount of mixed races in this world is living proof that we don’t want to be each other we’ve just gained a national love for each other. Why can’t we embrace that feeling of love? Why do we have to make it a hate crime? In a time when so much negative is happening, please don’t accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful. It is very clear to me when someone is showing love and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over.

When people on Instagram challenged her first post, she doubled down on defending those who painted their faces to look like hers:

Maybe Harlow doesn’t understand the difference between appropriation and assimilation when it comes to black women vs. white women? Also, anyone who puts on makeup to imitate a skin disease really can’t be considered the sharpest tool in the box. Imitating someone’s skin condition definitely isn’t something that should receive praise. But more power to Harlow for seeing it as such.

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