At just 23 years old, Winnie Harlow is not only en route to gaining supermodel status alongside friends including Bella Hadid, but the influential activist is astutely challenging the face of fashion along the way.
Proudly known as a ‘vitiligo spokesmodel’, given her visible skin condition that causes depigmentation, Harlow tells us she hopes “to portray a beauty message of diversity”.
With a social media platform reaching 2.4 million Instagram followers and counting, she’s certainly succeeding.
“Humans–like flowers–come in so many ranges; colours, heights and sizes, for example,” she tells us. “None of those differences makes one flower or human better or more beautiful. It’s the differences that make us all beautiful.” Quite.
Harlow’s floral simile ties into another issue she’s campaigning for, that of the plight of bees. The model has joined forces with Burt’s Bees as part of the brand’s #BringBackTheBees campaign, where for each limited-edition Coconut and Pear lip balm sold, 5,000 wild flower seeds will be planted – because a world without bees is a world without flowers.
“Bees pollinate so much of the plants we use to survive, a third of the plants we use for food,” Harlow highlights. “Knowing all that, this campaign means life!”
The Canadian’s career may have been launched via her spot on America’s Next Top Modelin 2013, but it was her appearance in Beyonce’s 2016 visual album Lemonade that propelled Harlow into the spotlight.
From Queen Bey to Burt’s Bees – and everything Harlow works on, her message of equity seems to remain central. “I stand with women from every background about the need to focus on giving each other what we need to be successful,” she tells us.
“My needs aren’t the same as yours and yours aren’t the same as mine or your friends or siblings. Once we stop trying to fit everyone into the same box I think we’ll be better off.”
Her favourite meme, which she says she’ll “always go back to,” sums up Harlow’s empowering message perfectly.