Winnie Harlow is a black supermodel, with a skin condition called vitiligo. It's changed the pigment of her skin, giving her a very unique look:
Winnie has a lot of fans, partly because she appeared on a cycle of America's Next Top Model, where she was really open about how she was very ashamed of her skin growing up. A lot of people find her story inspirational, as she's turned something that could be perceived as a flaw into one of her most unique selling points as a model. She's also just damn beautiful!
So, how are her fans honoring her? Um, by painting their faces to look like hers. Hmm.
Now, here's where things really get complicated. Winnie doesn't care! She responded to the brewing controversy with a long Instagram post:
My response to this is probably not what a lot of people want but here it goes: every time someone wants fuller lips, or a bigger bum, or curly hair, or braids does Not mean our culture is being stolen. Have you ever stop to realize these things used to be ridiculed and now they’re loved and lusted over. No one wants to “steal” our look here. We’ve just stood so confidently in our own nappy hair and du-rags and big asses (or in this case, my skin) that now those who don’t have it love and lust after it. Just because a black girl wears blue contacts and long weave doesn’t mean she wants to be white and just because a white girl wears braids and gets lip injection doesn’t mean she wants to be black. The amount of mixed races in this world is living proof that we don’t want to be each other we’ve just gained a national love for each other. Why can’t we embrace that feeling of love? Why do we have to make it a hate crime? In a time when so much negative is happening, please don’t accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful. It is very clear to me when someone is showing love and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over #1LOVE
Her thoughts about cultural exchange versus cultural appropriation sound a lot like what white people say in defense of themselves when they get called out for cultural appropriation.
It's pissed off a lot of people:
But other people, including some other black people, are like "rah rah rah":
And some are pointing out the people emulating her look that are not caucasian:
Verdict on this confusing controversy: who the hell knows!