Supermodel Adut Akech – chosen as this year’s face of Melbourne Fashion Week – has urged a “wake up call” to the media after Who magazine’s profile on her featured an image of another model, Flavia Lazarus.
The 19-year-old took to Instagram to express how “unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances” the experience had been for her and that it wasn’t the first time it had happened.
“Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue,” Akech said in her Instagram post. “Whoever did this clearly the thought that was me in that picture and that’s not okay. This is a big deal because of what I spoke about in my interview. By this happening I feel like it defeated the purpose of what I stand for and spoke about. It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrowminded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same. I feel as though this would’ve not happened to a white model. My aim for this post is not to bash Who Magazine -they have apologised to me directly - but I feel like I need to express publicly how I feel. This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen.”
Originally from South Sudan, Akech’s family fled to Kenya where she lived in a refugee camp until arriving as a refugee in Adelaide in 2008. Now she graces the runways for designers including Valentino and Chanel and was also chosen as one of the 15 “Forces for Change” women who are featured on this month’s cover of British Vogue which was edited by Meghan Markle.
Akech stated that she hoped the mix-up will be “a wake-up call” to the industry and that Australia “has the most work to do” when it comes to advancing diversity, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.