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Chantelle Brown-Young and positive self-image: teaching girls about individual beauty

Chantelle Brown-Young and positive self-image: teaching girls about individual beauty

By speaking up about vitiligo, a condition that affects the pigment of the skin, ex-America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) contestant Chantelle Brown-Young is confidently expressing her individuality. Use her experience to start talking to your child about celebrating different types of beauty and developing their own positive body image.

Chantelle Brown-Young: challenging the representation of women in the media

With the proliferation of manipulated images in the media today, it’s easy to see how girls can become obsessed with attaining ‘the perfect body’. Chantelle Brown-Young (also known as Winnie Harlow) understands the importance of being comfortable with how you look. She has vitiligo, a skin pigment condition that gives her white patches across her body that she was teased about at school. After competing for a modelling contract with Next Model Management, the 22-year-old is speaking up about the need for women to accept their bodies no matter how they look.

Chantelle, ANTM, and the importance of positive body image

Since being scouted for the 21st cycle of ANTM by the show’s host Tyra Banks after she stumbled upon her Instagram account, Chantelle has been using her success to promote the message that individual beauty is all about embracing your uniqueness. 

Her story provides a great opportunity to encourage your daughter to love and value her whole self – especially the qualities that make her unique – and to strive to achieve her own ambitions and inner confidence.

Parent power: how to promote positive body image in girls

It's rare to see models that reflect the diversity humankind has to offer. Instead, society promotes a narrow range of women as the embodiment of beauty. Constant reinforcement of this beauty ‘ideal’ can directly impact girls’ body confidence. Studies show that 80% of girls report lower self-esteem after just 60 minutes of reading a woman’s magazine.

It’s imperative we champion all types of beauty – especially those that are different to the so-called ‘ideal’. Chantelle’s success is not just a breakthrough for her, but for representation and perceptions of beauty as a whole. 

Start a conversation with your daughter about her feelings on her own beauty and body image. Does she ever feel the need to conform to a certain look? Introduce her to other models whose distinctive qualities set them apart, but also add to their beauty, like plus-size Candice Huffine, 64-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy or Jillian Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy.

Show her beauty isn’t about fitting into a mould

Every girl has the right to feel beautiful and confident. Make sure your daughter knows that being beautiful isn’t about possessing pre-approved traits or features. 

Do you have a unique feature you love because it makes you special? Talk about it with her and ask her to share one of her own. Try taking turns naming unique traits in other girls and women you both admire. 

The more you explore what beauty really means, the more she'll understand that she doesn’t need to live up to any ‘ideal’. Show her that true beauty is inner beauty – being comfortable in yourself, having confidence in your character and celebrating all the quirks and qualities that make you one of a kind.

next steps

  • Don’t flatter your child just for the way they look, but also for how they think and act. “By praising your daughter and focusing on her actions and positive behaviour you will help her to recognise and value her qualities and see herself in a more positive light,” explains self-esteem expert Dr Christina Berton
  • Ask them which of their attributes – apart from their looks – they'd like people to talk about? Encourage them to ask the same of their friends
  • While watching a film or TV show together, discuss the female roles they see on-screen. Is the character making choices they approve of? How would they retell the story if they could? Give them a notebook and pencil, or access to a camera, voice recorder or art supplies to tell their own stories