Fashion model Ajak Deng has decided that she's going to continue on with her career in order to fight a battle that she deems worthy of pursuing.
It's the battle about diversity in the fashion industry—more specifically, combating the European beauty standards that darker-complexion models like herself go up against every time they audition for a major fashion house.
Last week she put up an Instagram post announcing her retirement from modeling because of the "fakes and the lies" she puts up with.
On Sunday she put up another post recanting her retirement and explaining what had got her to the point of quitting.
"My first season in Milan, no one booked me and I was so destroyed because they [weren't] booking black girls like me that season," Deng explained.
She credited her manager with reassuring her that she was beautiful and that together they would break through the industry's complexion barriers: "[T]hank god for my sweet and encouraging agent @Meansss who told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I was one of the most beautiful girl[s] in the world, so [wipe] off those tears, come back to New York and let's change their minds one day at a time."
Deng said that her manager stood by her side then, so Deng is going to return the favor and not give up now. She said that she's also thinking about all of the girls and women who may look like her; quitting wouldn't set a good example for them.
"I was selfish to only think of [myself] and forgetting the people that [have] always been there for me through the worst times and good times," she wrote. "I feel like I have touched so many young people's lives, gave them hope. […] Yes sure giving up is easier but who will fight the war that we are so in denial about?"
She plans to continue to shed light on the issue and tackle the industry's colorism issue by going hard at what she does: "I thought giving up was easier but I am going to stay and fight this war with kindness, forgiveness, love and support to all humanity. We are all beautiful and [deserve] to be respected."
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.