America’s Next Top Model has always pushed boundaries, but this time, it’s aiming to show that being beautiful doesn’t mean conforming to a norm.
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Tyra Banks and her show, America’s Next Top Model, have always sought to be on the edge, but this new season will feature a model who is groundbreaking and seeks to show that true beauty can shine from within, despite being labeled as flawed by society.
Chantelle Brown-Young is a contestant on the next cycle of ANTM, and she is afflicted with a skin pigmentation problem known as vitiligo. Vitiligo causes large patches of very light pigmentation and it is more predominant in people with darker skin tones. The disorder is the same condition that Michael Jackson claimed to have had later in his career, when people began to notice and criticize him because his skin looked drastically different to when he was younger.
Brown-Young, who is 19 years old and goes by the name Winnie Harlow, was once bullied and called “zebra” and “cow” by her peers because of the the lighter patches of skin that appear on her face and body. She now preaches self-acceptance and seeks to be a role model for underdogs all over the world.
“The people thinking they can’t do what they want to do because of the little flaws, you can definitely do it and I’m here to prove it,” the model said in her ANTM audition video. “I have something very profound about the way I look. A lot of people have a story or a background, but mine is painted on my body.”
Brown-Young’s positive outlook will be a refreshing change on ANTM. The franchise has been plagued with horror stories, such as the downward spiral of contestant Renee Alway. The model was arrested in 2013 and was booked on possession of narcotics and suspicion of burglary and fraud. A SWAT team was also involved in her arrest.
The addition of Brown-Young to the upcoming cast may be Banks’ latest effort to boost ratings for the somewhat-flailing show, but allowing people of different backgrounds to compete seems like a step in the right direction.