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Here’s Why Representation Matters on World Vitiligo Day

Vogue Arabia’s June cover stars, Winnie Harlow and Shahad Salman, both have vitiligo – a skin condition that affects one percent of the world’s population – but it hasn’t held either of them back, in fact, it brought them together. With a shared vision that representation matters, these women prove that stereotypes can be broken and beauty should prevail; a message that is particularly important on World Vitiligo Day.

Photographed by Dan Beleiu for Vogue Arabia June 2019

Observed each year on June 25, World Vitiligo Day was introduced to raise awareness of the skin condition and the discrimination it can trigger. Vitiligo is caused by a lack of melanin, which creates a variety of patterns on the skin from loss of pigment. This can lead to people feeling ostracized for being different. “Before, I didn’t feel good about myself and I didn’t like the way I looked” explains Salman, “Winnie was the person who gave me the confidence to fight…I feel that now I, too, can inspire other girls from the Arab world.”

As a public spokesperson for vitiligo, Harlow continues to be open about the skin condition and inspire others through her experience –the model even encouraged Salman before they met: “Almost a year ago, Shahad made a post on Instagram with our pictures next to each other. She wrote in the caption that it was ‘weird’ how similar we looked,” shares New York-based Harlow. “I commented saying that it was not weird, but that she was so gorgeous.”

Winne Harlow and Shahad Salman’s first Vogue cover, therefore, puts the spotlight on vitiligo – today and every day – spreading a positive message of diversity.

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