winnie harlow needs you to stop calling her ‘brave’
The model is making something clear: she’s not brave, she’s gorgeous.
Anyway you look at it, Winnie Harlow has had a great year. The Canadian model featured in Beyonce's visual album Lemonade, and has since become friends with the star and a member of the collection of women who accompany her to award shows and other glamorous events. Aside from her role in a slice of artistic history, she's fronted Wonderland and Marie Claire, and featured in campaigns for Sprite and Swarovski — all while casually hanging out with Drake, Rihanna and Kanye.
Winnie first broke out in 2014 when Tyra Banks spotted her on Instagram and invited her to be part of the 21st cycle of America's Next Top model. In the years since she has spoken extensively about growing up with the skin condition vitiligo, and how she coped with the bullying it invited. But has admitted she never intended to be a role model, telling Wonderland: "I personally don't know why I'm seen as a role model. I like to call myself more an inspiration if anything. I'm happy to inspire your seven-year-old child, but I do not want to be her role model."
Today she continued that dialog, taking to Instagram to explain her distaste with the "brave" label that's often placed on her. In her post she wrote: "If one more person calls me brave I think Imma flip my shit." Continuing she explained that people's fixation on her skin is just a signifier of how we obsess over the differences between people. Adding that she is "a confident normal ass human, not some being who 'must be so brave to go outside looking like that' looking like what, myself?"
She concludes with one of the greatest lines ever offered on Instagram: "Because I don't look like you it's so incredible to be confident? I don't want to look like you, I'm gorgeous."
Fans and followers have flooded the post with praise, and expressed their own frustrations with how people speak about beauty and congratulate themselves for accepting anything that deviates from their experience of "normal". While those who have previously called Winnie brave surely meant no harm, her words are a reminder that it's easy to treat people as the "other" while still trying to celebrate them.
Text Wendy Syfret