Primark praised for using teenage model with vitiligo in new kidswear campaign

The long-term skin condition, characterised by its white pigmentation patches, is famously shared by supermodel Winnie Harlow – but there aren't many others in the fashion industry.

The 24-year-old Canadian beauty shot to fame on America's Next Top Model and has since walked for the likes of Diesel and Victoria's Secret – as well as gracing several magazine covers.

Despite affecting one per cent of the world's population, many kids with the condition can face bullying, and shoppers have applauded the high street giant for breaking down barriers.

Winnie herself revealed to Cosmo: "Kids called me a cow and mooed at me", and "in middle school, the bullying got physical."

Kaiden Williams appears both on the website and on posters in store.

After spotting these posters, one impressed shopper, who has vitiligo herself, tweeted: "Big up @Primark for including models with vitiligo in their stores.

"I showed this to my mum, who always struggled with my vitiligo, and she smiled".

Commenting on the thread, another woman said: "My aunt would have been so amazed if she had seen this.

"Always think of her and how much she struggled with it since people thought she was dirty. She would have been amazed that there are now adverts like this".

Others gushed of Kaiden's pics: "This is super beautiful" and "This is great, I'd love to see more of this."

Primark also shared a pic on Facebook, where impressed shoppers wrote: "We need more than this. Well done Primark."

What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a long-term condition where white patches develop on the skin.

It's caused by melanin, a pigment, and most commonly occurs on the face, neck, hands and skin creases.

It can develop at any age and starts as a pale patch of skin which gradually turns completely white. These patches are usually permanent.

Vitiligo can lead to other complications, like sunburn on the white patches, while it can be associated with eye inflammation and partial loss of hearing.

It's not clear why certain people develop vitiligo, but there are some risk factors:

  • Family history of vitiligo
  • Family history of autoimmune conditions
  • Melanoma (skin cancer) or cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system)
  • Skin damage from sunburn
  • Exposure to chemicals

Changing Faces, a charity supporting young people and adults with visible differences, also commended the chain.

CEO Becky Hewitt told The Independent: "Ensuring that people with visible differences are seen and heard across the fashion industry, in the media and in public life is so important.

"The people we support often tell us that they have never seen anyone who looks like them in fashion magazines and ad campaigns, and this has a huge effect on their self-esteem.

"Primark is setting a brilliant example and we hope to see many more brands following suit, so that fashion is truly accessible to all.

"The overwhelmingly positive response to this campaign shows that featuring more people with visible differences will help address the stigma around ‘looking different’ and prove that true beauty is about being proud to be yourself."

A Primark spokesman added: "We always strive to represent diversity and inclusivity, and our brand imagery reflects this."

Late last year, M&S was praised for hiring two child models, aged six and seven, with Down's syndrome.

While rising catwalk star Kate Grant is blazing a trail for young people with Down’s syndrome.

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