Wednesday 18 September 2019

'This doesn't happen to white models' - Adut Akech criticises Australian magazine for photo mix-up

Australian-Sudanese model Adut Akech presents a creation by Alexander McQueen during the Women's Fall-Winter 2019/2020 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show in Paris, on March 4, 2019. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)
Australian-Sudanese model Adut Akech presents a creation by Alexander McQueen during the Women's Fall-Winter 2019/2020 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show in Paris, on March 4, 2019. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)
Adut Akech attends the gala dinner, in honour of Stella McCartney, winner of the Global VOICES Award for 2018, during #BoFVOICES on November 30, 2018 in Oxfordshire, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
Adut Akech attends the #BoF500 gala dinner during New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge on September 9, 2018 in Brooklyn City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
Adut Akechl showcases designs by Bec and Bridge Swim during the media rehearsal ahead of the David Jones Spring Summer 18 Collections Launch at Fox Studios on August 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for David Jones)
Model Adut Akech presents a creation during the Alberta Ferretti women's Fall/Winter 2019/2020 collection fashion show, on February 20, 2019 in Milan. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Teenage supermodel Adut Akech said she found an Australian magazine using a picture of a different black model to illustrate an interview with her to be "inexcusable".

Earlier this week, WHO magazine published an interview with fashion's fastest rising runway star and she broke her silence in response to the unwavering criticism, stating the industry still retains racist tendencies. Akech is originally from Sudan and has spent much of her adolescence in Australia, where her modelling career kicked off. 

"In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and peoples attitude to colour in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl," she wrote in a statement on Instagram.

"This has upset me, has made me angry, it has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. 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.

Adut Akech attends the gala dinner, in honour of Stella McCartney, winner of the Global VOICES Award for 2018, during #BoFVOICES on November 30, 2018 in Oxfordshire, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
Adut Akech attends the gala dinner, in honour of Stella McCartney, winner of the Global VOICES Award for 2018, during #BoFVOICES on November 30, 2018 in Oxfordshire, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)

"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."

She added: "This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen. I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop. I’ve been called by the name of another models who happens to be of the same Ethnicity, I find it very ignorant, rude and disrespectful towards both of us simply because we know that this doesn’t happen with white models.

"I want this to be somewhat of a wake up call to people within the industry it’s not OK and you need to do better. Big publications need to make sure that they fact check things before publishing them especially when its real stories and interviews and not just some made up rumors. To those who work at shows and shoots it’s important that you don’t mix up models names. Australia you’ve a lot of work to do and you’ve got to do better and that goes to the rest of the industry."

In a statement, WHO magazine unreservedly apologised for the error, stating that an agency which set up the interview supplied them with the wrong image and both parties acknowledged that the publication also apologised privately to Adut and Flavia Lazarus, the model whose picture was used to accompany the piece.

"Our intention was to share Adut’s inspiring story and highlight her achievements. We are committed to increasing the diversity in the pages of WHO, and arranged the interview in view of this. Hopefully the result of our misprint will be more people talking about this issue in the industry and tackling it head-on."

Adut has walked for brands like Saint Laurent and Chanel and most recently featured on the cover of British Vogue's September issue, edited by Meghan Markle, alongside fourteen other trailblazers.

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