"My Story Is Painted On My Body" - Chantelle Brown-Young

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. What is beauty? What makes someone or something beautiful? It's in everything you just have to see things differently. Take it from the fashion world's newest supermodel.


The fashion industry has a new leading lady, who is serving up stunning images and redefining the global definition of beauty. Chantelle, who was diagnosed at age 4 with vitiligo, the skin condition that was made infamous by Michael Jackson, spent her youth bullied and tormented for her differences. Through all of the vocal and often volatile doubters, she believed her 5’10 frame, modelesque features and internal beauty could see her through to her dreams of becoming an international super model and spokeswomen for others with low self-esteem. At age 16, a local Toronto journalist, Shannon Boodram, discovered Chantelle and shared her story in a YouTube video. The video received over 150k views, as well as features in The Daily Mail and Access Hollywood. Her maturity, beauty and message resonated with fans around the world. Before her 18th birthday, she found herself encouraging people all over the world through her growing social media platforms.

With her emerging success online, the fashion industry began to turn their heads her way as well. Despite being rejected by every single modeling agency in Toronto, designers, photographers and runway directors began to see the beauty that the rest of the world could see. Unrepresented, she was invited to walk in several Fashion Art Toronto shows in 2013. From there, she had several of the city’s top photographers clamoring to capture her. Along her unprecedented ride to notoriety, that same year, America’s Next Top Model producers caught wind of Chantelle fever. After being discovered by Tyra Banks, Chantelle was requested to compete in the 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model. Even though Chantelle was Canadian and visibly had vitiligo, Tyra was ready to make all exceptions necessary to make a lifelong dream come true for this young girl who refused to be held back by her own skin. Cosmopolitan, Access Hollywood, Buzzfeed, The Insider and MTV all agree that Chantelle is the next IT girl, and anyone in the know can safely rest their hopes and dreams in this new face of beauty as well.

2014 LondonValerie Grant