Supermodel slams magazine for using photo of different black model in article about her

"This would've not happened to a white model," Adut Akech, a Sudanese Australian, said of the mistake in Who Magazine.
Australian-Sudanese model Adut Akech presents a creation by Alexander McQueen
Supermodel Adut Akech in Paris on March 4, 2019.Francois Guillot / AFP/Getty Images

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By Janelle Griffith

Supermodel Adut Akech said she felt disrespected after an Australian magazine published a feature article about her with the image of a different black model.

Akech appeared in Who Magazine ahead of Melbourne Fashion Week, but the Australian publication instead printed an image of Flavia Lazarus, another black model, at the show.

"This would've not happened to a white model," Akech said of the mistake in an Instagram post.

Akech is one of the fashion industry's most sought after models and has appeared in shows for such brands as Chanel, Givenchy and Valentino and on the covers of the Australian, British, Italian and Korean editions of Vogue. Time magazine named her one of the most influential teenagers in 2018.

The 19-year-old explained in her Instagram post over the weekend that she had given deep thought about how to approach the situation as it was not sitting well with her.

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"With the article, they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl," she wrote. "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."

Akech fled South Sudan for Kenya where she lived in a refugee camp until age 8 before seeking asylum in Australia in 2008. She said that in the Who Magazine interview, she discussed how people view refugees and people of color in general.

Who Magazine apologized in a statement, saying it had been given the wrong picture by the agency that set up the interview.

Akech said that not only did she feel insulted and disrespected, but she also felt as though her entire race has been disrespected, so she believed it was important to address the issue publicly.

"This is a big deal because of what I spoke about in my interview," she said.

Being misidentified defeated the purpose of what she stands for and spoke about, Akech said, and it goes to show that people are "very ignorant" and narrow-minded.

Melbourne Fashion Week also published an apology on its Instagram page.

"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 apology 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."

Akech said Who Magazine had apologized to her and that her goal was not to bash the publication but to spark "an important conversation" and highlight how deeply she has been affected by the error.

"I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop," she said, adding that she has "been called by the name" of another model 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," she said.

Akech said she wanted this episode to be a wake-up call to the modeling industry and to convey that this "is not OK and you need to do better."