Chantelle Brown-Young was diagnosed with the rare skin disorder vitiligo at the age of 4, after a white patch popped up on her body. For the next few years the condition progressed and her hands, knees, stomach, and face became covered with nearly symmetrical white spots. During childhood her unique appearance was a source of bullying, but since then, Brown-Young’s life has drastically changed.

“Growing up, it was a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ type of thing,” she tells People. “I just decided, ‘You know what? I’m going to keep telling myself I’m beautiful until I feel beautiful.’ And it happened.”

Chantelle Brown-YoungInstagram/WinnieHarlow

At 16, she was discovered by a Toronto photographer who encouraged her to model. Eventually, Brown-Young’s striking appearance grabbed the eye of Tyra Banks, who spotted the budding model on Instagram—and the rest is history. The hard worker auditioned for cycle 21 of Banks’s America’s Next Top Model and was offered a spot on the show. Brown-Young, who calls herself a vitiligo spokesmodel, hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams no matter what obstacles they may face. The 19-year-old will compete against other model hopefuls for a prize package that includes a career-launching contract with Next Model Management.

Check out Brown-Young on America’s Next Top Model cycle 21 when it premieres Aug. 18 (9 p.m. ET) on CW.

Plus, see how Tyra Banks’s looks have changed through the years!