Chantelle Brown-Young is your typical 19-year-old. She likes writing, dressing up, taking photos, and meeting new people on Instagram and Twitter.
What makes her different from most girls her age is her skin. Chantelle has vitiligo, a skin condition that causes patchy depigmentation of some parts of the body, especially the face and extremities. The cause of this condition still baffles scientists, and there are no absolute treatments for the condition. One famous person who had vitiligo is Michael Jackson, whose skin depigmentation became more and more evident over the years during his career.
Less than one percent of the world population has vitiligo, and Chantelle happens to be one of them.
Unsurprisingly, Brown-Young became an easy target for bullies. Chantelle was seen as very “different” from others, and was cruelly mocked for her appearance. She has been called terrible names by classmates and playmates. “Milky” and “zebra” were perhaps the least harsh words she has heard in school. Chantelle admits that life as a youngster was “really tough”, and has revealed that she used to have thoughts of attempting suicide
But the best thing was just about to happen to Chantelle. Moving from Canada to California, she decided that she will not be limited by her condition. Chantelle Brown-Young, who was cruelly taunted by others because of her unusual appearance, is now one of America’s most promising models.
She is perhaps the first and most popular mainstream model in the fast-paced industry of fashion to have vitiligo. Chantelle, whose dedication to make a name for herself despite her condition, appears on America’s Next Top Model, where she has had the opportunity to pose with the queen of runway herself, Tyra Banks.
Looking back on her hardships as a child, Chantelle had this to say:
“Ever wish you could go back to the younger you and say ‘Don’t worry baby, it gets better’.”
Aside from being a model, Chantelle currently serves as a speaker and ambassador for the vitiligo community. She has become an inspiration to those who have been mocked and taunted for being different from others.
Embracing her uniquely beautiful appearance, Chantelle Brown-Young says she accepts her originality – the way she is supposed to be. To others who are struggling to find themselves in a world that prefers similarity, this is what she says:
“I loved myself.
And with that, opportunities start to fall into my lap.
And I thank God for all of them.
Try loving yourself”
[Image from Chantelle Brown-Young’s social media accounts]