winnie harlow made to feel she couldnt succeed as model confidence helped persevere
Source: MEGA

Though Winnie Harlow Was Once 'Made To Feel' Like She Couldn't Succeed As A Model, Her Confidence Helped Her Persevere

Jul. 23 2021, Published 11:48 a.m. ET

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From global magazine covers to walking the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show runway, it's clear that Winnie Harlow has become one of the industry's most in-demand models over the past few years.

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That statement is something she never would have expected, as she always felt like the odd man out due to vitiligo, a condition that causes patches of skin to lose their pigmentation.

"Growing up, I never saw anyone like me on TV, billboards or on the runways," she told PEOPLE. "I felt like I was the only person in the world like me."

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"My 16-year-old self would never think that this would be my life. Naomi Campbell texted me a couple days ago. Stuff like that is insane," noted Harlow. "When I look back on it, I'm like, 'That's pretty cool.'"

winnie harlow puma
Source: Courtesy of PUMA/MEGA
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The Canadian never thought modeling was in the cards for her, but she decided to give it a try after some encouragement from a photographer friend — and the reactions she started receiving were overwhelmingly positive.

"The more I did it, the more of a following I gained on social media. I was getting a lot of love and support and people telling me that I inspired them," she recalled. "So I was like, 'If doing this thing that's just fun for me is inspiring people, then it's a win-win.'"

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In 2014, the star joined America's Next Top Model, and though the reality competition gave her a platform, it also almost spurred her to give up.

"At that point in my life, I was told or made to feel like I couldn't model or that it wasn't for me," she said. "My mother always said, 'If you don't got nothing good to say, don't say nothing at all.'"

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Harlow made it to the final rounds, but when she didn't come out victorious, she told herself that she may have to pursue a different career. However, she decided to keep trying — and as they say, the rest is history!

"My plan was to never fail," the Puma ambassador insisted. "I'm from the hood, and my goal was to never go back. I wanted to take care of my mom and my sister and make my dad proud."

Now, aside from starring in campaigns and walking the runways, she's nabbed a role as a judge on Making the Cut.

"I do enjoy doing film and TV and letting my voice be heard," she stated. "You can't get as much personality through pictures — and I have a very big personality."


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