By Agunda Okeyo
Shout out to high fashion model #AjakDeng for speaking her truth!
This gorgeous woman decided to leave the fashion game this week, expressing disdain for “fakes and lies” in the modeling industry. She has modeled for Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Marc Jacobs among others. The news comes just a week after a successful NYFW schedule, walking in some of the hottest shows of the season, PLUS she’s starring in several major spring campaigns including Barneys New York and Philipp Plein.
Deng emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 2005 after fleeing the ongoing civil war and geopolitical stalemate in South Sudan. Her mother died of malaria in a refugee camp in my native Kenya before she settled in her new home down under.
On Deng’s Instagram page she said “I am happy to announce that I am officially done with the fashion industry, I will be moving back to Australia in order to live the life that I fully deserved. Which is real life.” She praised the wonderful people she has been fortunate enough to meet and thanked God for her blessings. Yes, this sister has GUTS!
Deng has regularly spoken out against racism in the fashion world over her nearly 10 year career. Her public departure while STILL an in demand model speaks volumes about the enmity black women must endure on a daily basis. This is no surprise considering the ongoing outcry that black models often must bring their own make up to shoots, the constant use of black face on white models staged by white photographers and Western brands plus the recent racist comments directed towards a Ugandan model when a MAC Cosmetics IG post went viral for sharing a close up of her succulent full lips.
Recently I’ve come to appreciate how much black women must exalt our own beauty; celebrate our skin, curves and style as a form of self-care. Yes, celebrating your natural beauty is a revolutionary act!
More power to Ajak Deng for voicing her truth, keeping it real and most importantly, keeping it moving.
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