Chantelle Winnie is telling a story that belongs in today's bullying-aware environment. The supermodel says she was bullied in school. if you know Chantelle Winnie, you probably can guess why.
"I discovered that I was 'different' in the third grade," Winnie said in a Cosmpolitan interview. "As the new kid at school, I was trying hard to find my footing. I thought I had made friends with a couple of girls, until they stopped talking to me. When I confronted them, they said their mothers had warned them to stay away, because they might catch my skin condition."
Chantelle Winnie is now famous for her time on America's Next Top Model and for modeling Diesel fashions. But the model learned she had the rare skin condition vitiligo when she was only four. Winnie says she was never self-conscious about her skin until she got to school.
"Before that, I had never given much thought to the way I looked," she said. "Starting with that incident in the third grade, it would define the way people treated me."
Many people may be familiar with vitiligo from news reports about Michael Jackson. Those long-circulated rumors that Jackson "bleached" his skin to look "more white" were disproven when his autopsy revealed what he told Oprah years before. Michael Jackson had vitiligo.
Winnie Chantelle said one classmate "mooed" at her, joking that she looked like a cow with white splotches on her dark skin. The classmate then attacked Winnie.
"To get out of the situation, I let her beat me up," said Winnie. "The next day, she came at me again. This time, I snapped, defending myself extremely well. I never had to fight her again. But it was only the first of many similar incidents."
"I just tried to get through each day," she says. "I remember sitting by my window, wishing upon the stars that my skin condition would go away. I wondered, 'Why me?'
Some bullies never grow up.
"Chantelle Winnie is ugly" pic.twitter.com/UIWDFcApMj
— ✨SLIM x JIM✨ (@modelholicc) July 13, 2015
Needless to say Chantelle Winnie went on to do great things in spite of those bullies.
"People sometimes ask when I learned to love myself," she said. "But that was not the issue. I didn't have a problem with myself or my skin. I had a problem with the way people treated me because of my skin. They tried to define me."
"I had to relearn how to love myself by forgetting the opinions of everyone else and focusing on my opinion of myself," she continued. "Today, my motto is: You only have one life. Live it for yourself, not for anyone else. Do what the f--- you want!"
Chantelle Winnie inspires me A LOT Ilysm
— asdfghjkl; (@IngridIlacadd_) July 15, 2015