Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Ajak Deng, one of Australia's best known model exports, announced her retirement from fashion via Instagram on Tuesday night. The 26-year-old Deng has been an industry favorite since she was discovered in 2008. Over the course of what will be less than a decade-long career, she has walked for brands like Lanvin, Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, and starred in campaigns for Calvin Klein, United Colours of Benetton, Topshop, and MAC Cosmetics.
And yet, Deng's over it. She says she's leaving because she "can no longer deal with the fakes and the lies." She'll return to Australia "to live the life [she] fully deserves," which, while good for her, isn't so great for fashion, not to mention those of us who've appreciated her prominent voice on the subject of racism in the fashion industry. Despite this NYFW being the most diverse in years, the fashion world still has a long way to go in terms of attitudes and education. And losing Deng, one of the very few dark skinned women in the public eye with predominantly black features, is a bummer.
Put your best foot forward. 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. I can no longer deal with the fakes and the lies. My life is too short for this dramatic life. I am thankful and grateful for every sweet souls that I have crossed path with. ✌ ️ ✌ ✌
Her agent, Stephen Bucknall, made a statement following the announcement, and it doesn't appear as though Deng will be modeling after her return to Australia. "Ajak has said to me many times, it saddens her there isn't more work for dark skinned girls in Australia, as she would like to book more work here."
He adds, "They'll book the big caucasian girls, spend the big dollars, and fly them in from LA, but I'm yet to see them book a dark skinned girl in that way."
Dang seems to be somewhat relieved; she posted another Instagram photo after her retirement announcement thanking God for "her blessings."