I grew up playing with Barbie dolls who all looked alike. All the models I saw in magazines looked similar. Everyone kept telling me I needed to be skinny and feminine. I thought “beauty” meant perfection. It took me years to realize that beauty can be seen in every single person, animal and thing on this planet. Beauty seems to have rules in the fashion industry, but really, it has no boundaries. I always thought imperfections and abnormalities meant you weren’t beautiful. Now, I know better. I think our society is slowly starting to understand that, too.
I heard about a model on America’s Next Top Model named Chantelle Brown-Young (AKA Winnie Harlow) a few months ago.
Chantelle has a skin disease called vitiligo. In many articles I’ve read about Chantelle, she talks about how she was constantly bullied as a young child because of how her skin looked. I felt for her because I knew exactly the emotions she must’ve gone through. I do not have vitiligo, but like Chantelle, I don’t really fit into the “normal” skin category.
As you probably have seen in my OOTD photos, I have very pale skin which cannot physically be tanned from the sun. Not only do I have very pale skin, but I have naturally blonde hair and blue eyes. Oh, and yes, I’m Chinese. So although I didn’t get called the same horrible names Chantelle may have been called, I understand how she feels to be singled out because of my skin tone.
I was just in New York City during New York Fashion Week. I was browsing Instagram to compare my photos to others’. I searched #NYFW and #MBFW and stumbled across some photos of a very intriguing looking man sitting front row at a fashion show. I clicked on the tag and found out it was a model named Shaun Ross.
I described him in the photos I saw as “intriguing.” I used that word because I find people who have pale skin like me to be fascinating. Shaun is an African-American model who has albinism. I do not have albinism, but my skin is most likely just as fair as his.
If you know me, you know I love TED talks. I found this video of a TED talk featuring Shaun:
Discovering these two models really struck something inside of me. I don’t exactly know what it is, but it’s a feeling I’ve felt before. I’ve always been a supporter of anti-bullying campaigns because I know what it feels like to be bullied. This leads to me always being curious whenever I discover there are people like Chantelle and Shaun out there, changing beauty standards. I want to do that too. I may not be doing that with modeling, but I’d like to do that with the power of words.
So here are my tips to you:
-Don’t judge someone before you research into whatever it is that may make he or she different
-Speak kind words
-Love yourself, and know that you are beautiful