Winnie Harlow’s work with The Sims 4 allowing players to design characters with vitiligo sparks mixed reactions

Stephen Nartey March 12, 2024
Winnie Harlow/Photo credit: Winnie Harlow via instagram

Supermodel Winnie Harlow has collaborated with The Sims 4 to introduce a game update enabling players to design characters with vitiligo. The update was announced earlier this year by Electronic Arts, the California-based company behind the popular game franchise.

EA unveiled a Sim version of the Canadian supermodel, 29, showcasing her in an LA-inspired home. In a promotional video, Harlow expressed excitement over the new vitiligo feature, according to Daily Mail.

“It would have been so major to see a Sim that looks like me as a little girl. [The update] gives true representation to what my skin looks like [in real life].”

The Canadian model expressed gratitude for The Sims 4 update, telling Glamour that “I really worked for the little Winnie who’d never seen herself represented. And to have The Sims, a game that I used to play as a little girl, want me to be a part of this and making such a big change to allow everybody to feel represented was a real big honor.”

The update however garnered a mixed reaction from the game’s 2.1 million Instagram followers, with some users criticizing EA for allegedly neglecting existing glitches within the game.

One user said: “Y’all are so focused on adding diversity and inclusion s*** while the game is crumbling with bugs that never get fixed.”

Another pointed out that: “Okay there is gonna be more inclusion during your games full of glitches and different bugs that really need to be fixed… but okay, enjoy.”

Some gamers expressed the sentiment that EA could have made further efforts towards inclusivity.

“Please get more representation,” one critic said. “Like ASL, prosthetics or wheelchairs. Make the game as diverse as the players!!”

A second chimed in with: “Is it really just that?? While yes, it is important to have more inclusive stuff in the game, when they talked about it they made it sound like it was something bigger.

“Guess I’m just a bit disappointed that it’s just this.”

Meanwhile, one fan replied: “As a vitiligo girl, that makes me so happy.”

In February 2023, The Sims initiated an online debate by introducing an update featuring “top surgery” scars, resulting from breast removal and chest binders, for characters. The announcement faced groundswell backlash online, with critics expressing dismay and surprise over the promotion of transgender surgeries in a game targeted towards children.

The far-right Twitter account Libs of TikTok reposted updates from The Sims with critical commentary, with the caption: “They’re teaching young healthy girls that it’s ok to chop off their breasts.”

They included examples to buttress their point: “The Sims game announced a new update which has the option to make a teen character non-binary or transgender by giving them double mastectomy scars and chest binders.

“The Sims is advertised for ages 12+ They’re teaching young healthy girls that it’s ok to chop off their breasts.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 12, 2024


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