19-year-old Chantelle Brown-Young is perhaps the world’s first and only model with vitiligo, a condition that causes depigmentation of the skin. Vitiligo is the result of a malfunctioning immune system, has no cure and affects less than one percent of the world’s population. It’s the same disorder that pop icon Michael Jackson suffered from. In Chantelle’s case, the condition almost ruined her life. That is, until she decided to turn it around.
As a child, Chantelle became an easy target for bullies. “While growing up, I was teased, ridiculed, and bullied and called names like cow, zebra, and all manner of other disparaging slurs,” she said. “The continuous harassment and the despair that it brought on my life was so unbearably dehumanizing that I wanted to kill myself.” Her mother, Lisa Brown, said: “Chantelle is a sweet, beautiful, outgoing teenager and while she was being abused, I didn’t stop praying that God would help me find a way.”
Eventually, Lisa’s prayers were answered. The family moved from Canada to California, and Chantelle decided that in her new life, she wouldn’t be limited by her condition. She realized that she was in control of her destiny, if only she was prepared to change the way she saw herself. So instead of blaming her skin condition for all her troubles, she started to embrace the flaw. She also pushed back the negative energies and the negative people who surrounded her.