Massimo Campana & Trever Swearingen/Pottle Productions Inc.
August 24, 2015 05:30 PM

Chantelle Winnie‘s rare skin disorder, vitiligo, left her with a unique complexion that some fans are trying to imitate as a tribute to the former America’s Next Top Model contestant.

While some social media users have been outraged by white fans who have painted their faces to look more like Winnie – accusing them of putting on blackface – the model, 21, took to Instagram to defend the controversial images.

“Every time someone wants fuller lips, or a bigger bum, or curly hair, or braids does not mean our culture is being stolen,” she posted on Saturday. “No one wants to ‘steal’ our look here. We’ve just stood so confidently in our own nappy hair and du-rags and big asses (or in this case, my skin) that now those who don’t have it love and lust after it.”

“Just because a black girl wears blue contacts and long weave doesn’t mean she wants to be white, and just because a white girl wears braids and gets lip injections doesn’t mean she wants to be black,” she continued. “The amount of mixed races in this world is living proof that we don’t want to be each other – we’ve just gained a national love for each other.”

Winnie – born Chantelle Brown-Young – is encouraging her followers to see the face makeup as a symbol of love and admiration.

“Why do we have to make it a hate crime?” she said. “In a time when so much negative is happening, please don’t accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful. It is very clear to me when someone is showing love, and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over.”

Winnie’s Instagram post sparked a debate throughout a thread of thousands of comments.

Some supported the model’s views, including user @evel_kenevel, who wrote: “I love your perspective. So enlightened. So … evolved. So full of love.”

Others were outraged by Winnie’s post.

“I’m not even black nor white but I’m disgusted at how you’ll excuse their form of black face and let them do this,” wrote user @goth_money. “You just opened a door for all the dumb racist teens to do this.”

Winnie responded to criticism with a second Instagram post, asking people to embrace diversity and not think of things in such black-and-white terms.

“One big comment I saw on my post was ‘You can’t play both sides,’ but it’s that same mentality that keeps us stagnant,” she wrote. “When a black fan paints their face to look like mine then what … Will you turn it into ‘appropriation of vitiligo’ or will you be able to accept somethings as public examples of love?”

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