Model Behavior

Every Model With Vitiligo Is Helping To Change The Way We See Beauty

"Why is there a stigma around being different when we're all different?"

Despite the beauty industry's historical lack of diversity, fashion designers and cosmetics companies are becoming increasingly inclusive. Every model with vitiligo, for instance, who has gained visibility in recent years is helping to expand our definition of beauty. You might be wondering, what is vitiligo? According to Mayo Clinic, vitiligo is "a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect hair and the inside of the mouth." 

Female models with vitiligo now appear regularly on designer runways and in advertising campaigns, empowering those who once hid behind the makeup to use these tools to enhance their individuality. Women with vitiligo who span the spectrum, including White models with vitiligo and Black models with vitiligo, are expanding the public's definition of what it means to be attractive.

Here are five up-and-coming famous models with vitiligo who are redefining the way society perceives beauty:

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Winnie Harlow walked countless runways. Next month, she'll be the first model with vitiligo to grace the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

From New York Fashion Week (NYFW) to coveted ad campaigns, Winnie Harlow has made a name for herself by promoting body positivity and self-love. Now, the hard work of this former America's Next Top Model has truly paid of, as Harlow will be the first model with vitiligo to walk the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Harlow has made it her mission to stand for and represent other women in an effort to encourage both the fashion and beauty industry to embrace what makes people unique.

"Why is there a stigma around being different when we're all different?" Harlow asked in an exclusive interview with Vogue. "This is such a monumental moment in my life and career, I just want to celebrate each day leading up to it," she added. "Oh, and keep myself from crying the moment I walk on that stage!"

Breanne Rice spent her 20s hiding her vitiligo. Now she's encouraging others to embrace their natural beauty by putting her 'imperfect' skin on display.

For years, Breanne Rice felt pressured to conceal her vitiligo because her skin didn't conform to society's standard of beauty. But, after nearly a decade of using foundation to even out her skin tone, Rice decided she'd had enough. Thus, the model posted a makeup-free selfie on Instagram that revealed her true beauty in an effort to inspire others to do the same.

"Coming forward has given me a confidence that I've never had before," Rice told A Plus in 2016. "At this point in my life, I would rather be a role model than a perfect looking model or cover my face to appear that way. I want to be real, and talk about issues that nobody talks about, and have an impact on people's lives in a good way. I think we really need people to lead the way in this area, and if it starts with me, I'm willing to take on that task full force." 

Kandice Benford was afraid vitiligo would ruin her wedding day. Now she wears her skin condition with pride because she knows it makes her unique.

Every bride should feel like a supermodel on her special day. Yet, while Kandice Benford doesn't model professionally, this vitiligo advocate and activist inevitably felt like an international sensation when a sudden resurgence right before her wedding gave her the strength and confidence to quit hiding her skin condition and embrace her inner beauty. Her fiancé's encouraging words —he told her he thought she was beautiful without makeup — helped her recognize that she no longer needed to cover up.

"I can honestly say having vitiligo has made me a stronger person, and more confident in myself," Benford told PEOPLE. "I love it, it makes me unique. To anyone else going through this: love yourself. Be patient with yourself. You are stronger than you think!"

Ash Soto was confused and scared when she was first diagnosed with vitiligo. Now she treats her body like the work of art it is.

When Ash Soto was officially diagnosed with vitiligo at age 12, she wasn't sure how this condition would impact her life. But, as the years passed, Soto ultimately recognized that her skin wasn't something she should hide. Instead, she now treats her body as a work of art by literally transforming herself into a human canvas to promote self-love.

"Each of us get one life to live and the things that make us different from one another are those that make us special," Soto told A Plus. "The only person that has to accept you and love you is you. The standards of beauty in our society are unattainable to most of us. These standards should not be your goal, but instead the acceptance of the things that make you imperfect should be your main focus. Self-love is the best love — always remember that."

Amy Deanna tried to blend in by covering her vitiligo with foundation. Now, as one of CoverGirl's newest ambassadors, she uses makeup to help her stand out.

As beauty brands work to become more inclusive, CoverGirl decided to lead the way by hiring model Amy Deanna as its first brand ambassador with vitiligo. While Deanna admits that she used to buy hundreds of dollars worth of cosmetics to hide her skin condition, she now uses foundation to enhance her varied tones, as her love for makeup boosts her confidence, while also enabling her to increase awareness for vitiligo.

"Vitiligo awareness is something that is very important to me," Deanna said in an official press release. "Being given a platform to do so means so much. At the end of the day I am just like everyone else, I just happen to have spots. It's a part of my identity, but it doesn't define who I am. For there to be so many of us and so little representation, it's truly disheartening. I work with CoverGirl; I'm a black woman; I have vitiligo. That is empowering." 

Cover image via  Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock

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