top of page
  • F AF

TOP MODEL Winnie Harlow

Letting your idea of beauty be dictated by the one type of person you see in commercials and billboards is not healthy way to think.

– Your Instagram bio states: “Living with integrity, speaking your truth though it might create conflict or tension, living in harmony with your values, and making choices based on what you believe.” Why did you chose that bio? Can you expand on that thought?

– I chose that bio because those are the decisions that I have made in my career, and they are the values that I hold most dear to myself. I will always spread my message and speak my truth, even if it means making some other people upset. You can’t please everyone, but if you stay true to your values and the message you want to send, you’ll please some people. And most importantly, you’ll be able to live with yourself.

– Do you feel like social media helped you launch your career? And if so, how relevant was it’s contribution?

– Social media is so influential in setting a standard for beauty. For me, social media exposed me even more to different ideals of beauty and made me realize that everyone truly is beautiful in their own way.It made me feel included and accepted as a black woman with vitiligo, and I hope that’s what other kids are learning too. Letting your idea of beauty be dictated by the one type of person you see in commercials and on billboards is not a healthy way to think.

-What advice can you give aspiring models about social media?

– Honestly, it’s tough to be a model now without social media. Use it to your advantage, and try your best to find that balance between being open about your life and keeping a little mystique around yourself. Nowadays, people don’t like inauthenticity. A feed with nothing but perfect pictures on the beach or from a shoot is going to get tiring. Be real, and use it to spread a message that’s truly important to you. But at the same time, don’t give up too much.

If you reveal everything, it’ll affect your personal life on a deeper level, and it’ll be easier for people to get tired at some point.

– Karl Lagerfeld told you “The grace you walk with reminds me of a young Naomi Campbell.” How did you feel? Were you close to him at the time?

– We weren’t close friends but he was absolutely a huge inspiration of mine. I was so lucky that he even knew of my existence, and that I was able to meet him on a few occasions. When he said that about me, I couldn’t even describe how I felt in that moment. I was completely elated that anyone would compare me to Naomi, yet alone someone who I had admired for so long.

– When it comes to diversity and inclusion, what is one area in which you would like to see more of it inside and outside of the modeling industry?

– Diversity and inclusion needs to be a priority in every line of work. It is especially important for the modeling industry because it puts people in the forefront, so every race, color, shape, size, sexuality, religion, disability, and background need to be represented so every person sees someone that looks like themselves. You can’t underestimate the impact of that. But diversity in every industry is key to true equality. Inclusion in more behind-the-scenes jobs are just as important as public representation.

– You’ve stated that your modeling career is the “Door opening for everyone, we are all the same because we are all different.”We found this quote so beautiful and true. Can you expand this thought? Who was your biggest inspiration for learning to

think in this way?

– I think the door is open for anyone to be a model, as long as they push themselves and carve their own path. I think my biggest inspiration in thinking this way is my mom. She taught me to never give up on a dream, no matter how many rejections or insults I received that could have gotten in my way. I wouldn’t have gotten here without her.

– What about modeling intrigues you? The fashion? The art? The platform? What about the industry do you love the most? What do you dislike about the industry?

– It started off being the fashion — I wanted to look exactly like the girls I saw everywhere on billboards, on catalogs, and later, on social media. But when I got deeper into my career, it quickly became my platform that I admired most. I would not have been able to speak on my experiences and try to help other women if it weren’t for the platform that modeling has given me. What I dislike about the industry is that it’s still too slow to adapt to our push for diversity. We’ve made some good strides, but we still have some work to do for true representation and equality.

– Miss Lisa Brown is gorgeous and we might be a little obsessed with your mother. Can you explain your relationship with her, and how she has influenced you to be the woman you are today? What is your best advice you’ve been given in your life?

– My mother is the best person I know. She taught me everything I know about being a woman, and being a model, even though she’s not one herself at least professionally, she can work the camera better than me if she wants to. When I was down and couldn’t gain enough strength myself to keep going through whatever obstacle was blocking me, she would give me that strength.