Akon Changkou says modelling made her appreciate her African beauty

Akon Changkou - who is of South Sudanese heritage - says modelling made her appreciate the beauty of being Black and African beauty after being smothered with Eurocentric beauty standards while growing up in Australia.

Akon Changkou

Akon Changkou says modelling made her appreciate her African beauty.

The Louis Vuitton model - who is of South Sudanese heritage but grew up in Australia after her family fled the conflict in the country - grew up sad about not being “conventionally pretty” and found it “confusing” to be so “different” in appearance to the rest of her classmates, who were constantly asking rude questions about the texture of her natural hair.

The cover girl told Harper’s Bazaar: “Before I was in this industry, I assumed you had to be conventionally pretty and super tall to do well. I feel like I’ve broken those barriers now. With social media, you’re only posting your successes. It’s like everyone is super glamorous all the time. Growing up, I didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but I felt like I had to do that just to conform. My extreme-contouring phase is a big regret. With modeling, I don’t know if this makes sense, but I feel like I appreciate certain features about myself more than I did before because I’m getting praised for them. I’ve really grown to appreciate my natural beauty and feel the most beautiful in comfortable clothes with a makeup-free face. Feeling this way didn’t come easy. It’s hard because I didn’t grow up in South Sudan, and I wish I did. I was there until I was nine, and then most of my life was in Australia. I grew up around people who didn’t look like me. It was just confusing. When I went to school, I was always the only Black girl in class. I didn’t see myself represented or anything apart from my siblings, who, again, were to me much prettier. I don’t think I was bullied in school, but I did feel different. I’d get the best-hair award and things like that. I’m like, what the hell? Or people would say random comments, like ‘Your hair’s so spongy.’”


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