America's Next Top Model: 20-Year-Old Chantelle Brown Overcomes Skin Disease, Vitiligo, Makes it to the Top 20

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By Sarah Thomas | August 15, 2014 4:13 PM EST

She has white patches on the body and was diagnosed as a vitiligo patient. Yet, she went on to win a popular spot as a participant on America's Next Top Model season 21. Chantelle Brown-Young achieved this at the age of 20.

REUTERS/PHIL MCCARTEN
Actress/model Tyra Banks arrives at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California June 20, 2008.

These white patches that appeared all over her body made her the butt of many jokes. As a child, she was bullied and called names like cow and zebra, and she was mooed at, making her abhor attending school.

Today, the same Brown-Young has a flourishing modelling career. At the age of 16, she realised she had a flare for modelling when she posed for a photographer on request.

She had to discontinue her high school studies because of the constant bullying of her schoolmates and concentrate on her General Educational Development. On Instagram, her modelling photos became an instant hit with 200,000 followers. And a call from Tyra Banks, the host of America's Next Top Model, gave her the break she had been waiting for.

Vitiligo, Chantelle's ailment, is a skin disease. The pigment cells melanocytes are destroyed in certain areas. White patches are formed in any part of the body. The exact cause of vitiligo is not known. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease which tends to run in the family. Sometimes, it could be the result of thyroid dysfunction. Vitiligo is not painful and has no health consequences. But it does lead to emotional and psychological problems due to the stigma from society. Proper and timely treatment can reduce the severity of the case, however, it is not curable.

Brown-Young has been an inspiration to people. Many people on social networking sites have contacted and commended her for taking the brave step to become a model regardless of having vitiligo. She is an inspiration to many people.

"There is a lot of positive feedback on the pictures that I post. For example, there was a girl the other day who told me that she lives in Atlanta, and she has never worn shorts, and because of me she is wearing her shorts with her vitiligo... because of me," she commented.

Along with praise also comes criticism, and she has learned how to deal with them. Chantelle will appear in America's Next Top Model, on Aug 18 on The CW.

 

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(Photo: REUTERS/PHIL MCCARTEN / )
Actress/model Tyra Banks arrives at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California June 20, 2008.
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