When we think about beauty, we think about perfect skin, perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect smiles, perfect eyes and a generally blemish-free look. Psychologists and scientists have both found that we choose beauty standards based on the culture and the ingrained societal standards that we live in.
The media has become increasingly invasive in our modern American society and around the world. We see images of perfect models on a regular basis from the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition to the models lining the Victoria Secret runway each year.
These women inspire us because they are not only talented models, but they are models who have revolutionized—in some significant way—the fashion industry, our society and therefore the way that people perceive their own bodies. They have taken traditional beauty standards and updated them, upgraded them and in some cases thrown them completely out the window.
These women are creating new standards that every woman can celebrate so join us in taking a look at these incredible models-turned-role models.
Winnie Harlow (birth name: Chantelle Brown-Young)
This model knows what it feels like to be bullied. As a young girl, classmates who called her “Panda” and told her that she was so ugly so no one would ever want to be friends with her taunted her on a daily basis. As she grew older, the taunt simply changed to tell her that she was so ugly that no one would ever want to date her. All because of her skin condition called vitiligo. The skin condition created patches of white that covered parts of her dark brown skin. Instead of allowing all of the taunting and jeering to make her a victim, Winnie decided to fight back and to accept the way that she looked. She went so far as to decide that it was a positive attribute. This was when she decided to start modeling.
In the 15th season (or twenty-first cycle) of America’s Next Top Model, Winnie made it as a top contestant. At this point, she was still rocking her birth name Chantelle Brown-Young. She ended up in sixth place out of the fourteen model contestants. Not one to let failure keep her down, she changed her professional name to Winnie Harlow and was cast by Desigual, a casual clothing brand. The brand’s unusual style meshed perfectly with Winnie and it was her first big professional break. From here, she has modeled for fashion brands such as Diesel, Dazed, i-D and SHOWStudio. She also has modeled for the magazine Glamour for two of the different non-English language versions of the magazine.