"I feel as though this would’ve not happened to a white model," Adut Akech said

By Helen Murphy
August 28, 2019 10:44 AM
Adut Akech
FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty

Supermodel Adut Akech is calling out Australian publication Who magazine after they published an article about her alongside a photo of a different black model.

Akech, 19, posted a photo of the magazine spread — which was published ahead of Melbourne Fashion Week and mistakenly used an image of model Flavia Lazarus — on her Instagram, explaining in a lengthy caption that she had “given some deep thoughts the past few days on how to approach this situation.”

“For those who are not aware, last week @whomagazine (Australia) published a feature article about me,” she explained. “In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and people’s attitude to color in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl.”

Akech is this year’s ambassador for Melbourne Fashion Week, and has been featured on the covers of British, Italian, German and Japan Vogue, among others. In 2018, TIME magazine named her one of the most influential teenagers of the year.

Akech explained in her post that she was “upset” and “angry” about the mistake. “It has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances,” she wrote.

“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,” the model continued. “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,” Akech wrote. “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,” she said.

Akech explained that she didn’t want to “bash” the magazine, and added that they had apologized to her directly.

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“This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen,” she wrote. “I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop.”

Akech concluded her post by explaining that she hoped the magazine’s error would be “a wake up call to people within the industry.”

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In a statement to PEOPLE, Who magazine apologized for the “incorrect image” and explained that “the agency that set up our interview with Adut Akech supplied us with the wrong photograph to accompany the piece.”

“Our intention was to share Adut’s inspiring story and highlight her achievements,” the statement continued. “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.”

Melbourne Fashion Week also apologized in an Instagram post, saying that they were “extremely disappointed” by the mistake.

“We are extremely disappointed that a photo of one of our campaign models, Flavia Lazarus, was mistakenly printed instead of a photo of Adut,” the Instagram post read. “Both Adut and Flavia have expressed their disappointment and we support them. This error is unacceptable, and both Who Magazine and our public relations agency, OPR, have apologized.”

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