Mary-Rozzi

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The day the word “pleasure” sprung to my mind, it was a contrarian idea, because I was having too little of it at the time. I was experiencing things through a bit of a pall of feeling quite lost. But I realized I could try to pivot away from pain and put my weight on the other foot—it was the switch that gets flicked, and some new light is shed on a situation. It just dawned on me that I might have been feeding my own fire of exhaustion and overwhelmingness, because I was investing in it. I started to think that I actually could change things by deciding to change them, and that something as ephemeral as a feeling or a mood wasn’t as uncontrollable as the weather. There have been times when I don’t get to pick between depression and resiliency, but when you have the wherewithal to try, that’s when you get stronger.

Did that more positive approach work for you?

It’s currently up for debate. I’m definitely starting to understand that whatever you do, you get better at it—but that doesn’t mean you learn how to pole vault overnight. I used to wake up at the mercy of whatever I woke up with, and now less so. But every day is still a day.

Some people seem just fine, though, don’t they? There are certain people you say this stuff to, and they’re like, “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” But others get it because they live that way a little bit, feeling like the wind is out of your sails. I remember talking about it with a friend of mine who doesn’t really doesn’t deal with this stuff, and he was like, “I don’t get it, like, I live in Berlin and in the winter it’s really brutal and I feel really shitty sometimes too.” And I was like, “OK, well imagine Berlin winter is inside your head—but it’s a sunny July morning, and you don’t have to do anything except weed your garden and make breakfast.” He was like, “Oh, that sucks!” A lot of people live that way. We don’t really name it. (Hard Feelings: A Conversation with Feist)

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“If one day I’m all black I’m still a model. If one day I’m all white I’m still a model. I am not my skin. I am a model with a skin condition.

“I get comments saying that I’m a leper, I control how my skin changes, I bleach my skin, my skin’s burned. None of those are true. The world is looking at me now. I either let the haters affect me or I step my money up. When I stand back from all the hate and I check my bank account… Hahahahaha.”

Chantelle Winnie is a model in demand: her army of fans includes artists, designers and photographers. She told Eve Barlow about her journey from a schoolgirl bullied about her vitiligo to runway queen and took some exclusive pictures for the Observer.

Photos: Mary Rozzi for the Observer