In Latest Episode Of ‘All Black People Don’t Look Alike’: A Magazine Mixed-Up Two Black Models For A Feature Interview
An Australian magazine is under fire after they incorrectly identified the South Sudanese-Australian supermodel Adut Akech, and published a photograph of model Lavia Lazarus instead. Akech, who’s worked with Chanel, Vogue, British Vogue, and other well-renowned fashion publications, took to Instagram to express her disappointment after the magazine published another model in a feature she was interviewed for.
She was interviewed by WHO magazine, a celebrity and entertainment publication, ahead of Melbourne Fashion Week which begins in Australia this week on August 28.
According to Akech, the publication already directly issued an apology to her but she still wanted to share with the public how the incident made her feel.
“With the article, they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl,” Akech wrote in her Instagram caption. “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.”
She went on to write that she not only felt insulted and disrespected but she felt like her entire race had been disrespected too. According to the model, the incident compelled her to address the issue so that similar flubs would not be repeated.
In her interview with Australia’s WHO Magazine, Akech said she spoke about how people view refugees and about people’s attitude to people of color in general. But after they mistook her for another Black model, she felt that it not only disrespected her but also defeated the purpose of what she said in her interview and what she stood for.
Akech went on to write in the lengthy caption that she feels this wouldn’t have happened to a white model and it’s also not the first time she’s experienced something similar to this, she added.
In her caption, Akech also opened up about the many times other people have called her by another model’s name. Ultimately, Akech hopes that by speaking up and publicly addressing how this made her feel, it will work as somewhat of a “wake up call to people within the [fashion] industry.”
Publications need to do better, and so do the writers, photographers, fact-checkers, and editors within these publications. Akech ended her caption by saying that Australia has a lot of work to do and so does the rest of the industry.
Many people on Twitter also showed their support for Adut Akech and voiced their opinions about the gross trend of mistaking other black women for each other in the fashion and entertainment industry.
Lord Mayor Melbourne Sally Capp on Twitter went on to air her frustrations and disappointments with what happened. “Respect for all people from all backgrounds is fundamental to our city and our culture. The diversity of our community is precious and something we truly value and celebrate,” she added.
Capp went on to write that she was working to identify ways to make a positive impact so these acts of discrimination do not keep happening. She said she will be meeting with model Adut Akech and went on to express her “deepest apologies.”
Most importantly, she tweeted, the City of Melbourne will be working with Adut to “create the most positive and proactive outcome from an awful and completely avoidable situation.”
While it’s great to see that Lord Mayor Melbourne Sally Capp is taking the necessary steps to address this situation in a mature and constructive manner, she hits the nail right on the head when she says this was a completely avoidable situation.
One user tweeted that mistaking Adut Akech for another Black woman is just another form of blatant of racism.
Shahmir Sanni tweeted that Adut Akech has been on “every major magazine in the world” and that white writers need to do better and avoid another racist incident like this in the future. “When a black woman has worked hard for her accolades, broken a multitude of glass ceilings, spoken up for refugees unapologetically, misidentifying her plays into the structural & institutional biases of our societies,” Sanni wrote in another tweet.
Another Twitter user pointed out that Adut Akech is simultaneously on 3 different September covers — including Meghan Markle’s Vogue issue where she was a guest editor.
And yet, they added, the wrong photo of her was still included in the Australian magazine.
Other folks on Twitter were also quick to reiterate that Adut Akech is one of the world’s top models at the moment and that this irresponsible “mix-up” is something other Black women can relate to.
“All of us who have been mistaken for another can empathize,” they tweeted.
Since Akech shared her post on Instagram, Melbourne Fashion Week also published an apology on its Instagram page saying they were extremely disappointed that a photo of one of their campaign models, Flavia Lazarus, was “mistaken;y printed instead of a photo of Adut.”
Further, BBC also reached out to WHO Magazine for a statement. To which they responded that “The error was administrative and unintentional and we sincerely apologise for this mistake and any upset it has caused to the models involved, and our client the City of Melbourne.”