The end of the cookie-cut­ter model

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - by Win­nie Har­low

By Win­nie Har­low

in­ever wanted to be a model, grow­ing up in Toronto, Canada, I was al­ways asked by my friends, who had a T-shirt line or were hav­ing a lit­tle com­mu­nity run­way show, to model for them. I re­mem­ber a friend telling me, “I can see you on the cover of Vogue.” And I looked at her like, ‘OK, what­ever…’ Not be­cause I thought I couldn’t be a model; I just never thought about it at all. But then In­sta­gram was be­com­ing a thing and I be­gan post­ing pic­tures of my­self, and peo­ple were lik­ing them. I thought, ‘You know what, why not give it a shot?’ That was 2013, and the be­gin­ning of the time when mod­els who weren’t cookie-cut­ter pretty were get­ting booked. Right now, it’s so beau­ti­ful that there are so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple and sizes be­ing rep­re­sented. Grow­ing up, I would never have imag­ined some­one with vi­tiligo or freck­les on the cover of a mag­a­zine. Just the fact that Ad­woa Aboah’s gor­geous face was on the cover of Bri­tish Vogue, wouldn’t have hap­pened be­fore.

When it comes to in­clu­sive­ness, the modelling in­dus­try still has a lot to do. For ex­am­ple, with hair stylists: just be­cause you’ve worked on one black per­son’s hair doesn’t mean you know all black hair. There are so many peo­ple who are like, “Yeah! I’ve worked on a black girl be­fore. I know black hair.” And then they still reach for the tongs or use high heat.

With makeup artists, we need to have more peo­ple who know how to work with some­one with a dark skin tone and not have it turn grey or ashy. Even dur­ing Fash­ion Week, I was back­stage and put in front of a makeup artist, and I looked at the range of foun­da­tion tones she had – she didn’t even have colours dark enough for my skin. If you don’t even have shades dark enough for me, that’s say­ing a lot. We have to keep ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple.

When a Bri­tish news­pa­per ran a pic­ture of me with a cap­tion de­scrib­ing me as a “vi­tiligo suf­ferer”, it tore me to shreds. I said to my agent, “Re­ally, again? Is this a joke?” That’s how I feel ev­ery sin­gle time I see that word placed be­side my name. It’s some­thing I see of­ten, so I felt like I should say some­thing. It’s cruel for any­one to de­scribe me as a suf­ferer, and it takes away from ev­ery­thing else – I’m 100% ex­celling in ev­ery­thing I do. To­day, I rep­re­sent a dif­fer­ent stan­dard of what is tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered beau­ti­ful. Some­times I say there are a mil­lion dif­fer­ent stan­dards of beauty; some­times I say there are no stan­dards of beauty. In the end, it’s the same thing: we’re all beau­ti­ful.

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