Supermodel Anok Yai is addressing Carine Roitfeld’s comments in a touching essay about racism within the fashion industry.
For a little refresh, amid the George Floyd protests, the CR Fashion Book founder posted an Instagram picture of her embracing Yai. In the caption she simply wrote, “Miss you,” and Diet Prada reported that she later commented, “Anok is not a black woman, she is my friend.” She received a lot of backlash, with people calling it “tone deaf” and “deeply offensive.”
On Wednesday, June 3, the 65-year-old fashion legend posted a long apology to her Instagram feed. “I would like to sincerely apologize for my previous comments that were posted on social media,” she wrote. “My intent was to express love and support for my dear friend, Anok Yai – not to deafen my message. I realize that I caused further pain and hurt to the very community that I was looking to support.”
Now, Yai is making her voice heard, penning an essay for O, The Oprah Magazine, titled, “Anok Yai Says Black Models Shouldn’t Have to Educate the Fashion Industry About Racism.”
In the piece, she writes about racist encounters she experienced as a kid, which were prejudices she thought would go away once she became a model. “Unfortunately, that was not the case,” she writes. “Instead, racist encounters just became more public — and exposing.”
She says a huge part of the problem has come from the “lack of reaction on set or backstage,” making those who do stand up for themselves alone and vulnerable.
She then dives into the recent incident with Roitfeld, which she says was “jarring” and “one of many similar microaggressions I’ve experienced during my time in fashion.” However, while she recognizes that the fashion industry “needs to become educated…and fast,” she says it is not up to black models to do the educating.
“Black models should not have to teach working professionals how to deal with our hair and skin day in and day out. Educate yourself and come prepared. It’s your job,” she writes. “The world is changing right before our very eyes, and we won’t be tolerant of intolerance any longer.”
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