When a story about Kaitlen Dodd’s dream to be the first Indigenous supermodel made national headlines, it wasn’t her achievements or goals people were commenting on.
An overwhelming number of comments were on the colour of Ms Dodd’s skin, saying she was too fair to be an Indigenous model.
Ms Dodd said she was shocked by the response. However, it’s not the first time she’s had people ask about the colour of her skin.
“Within the industry I always get comments from everyone, not that they’re trying to be rude, they’re just uneducated, but they ask ‘what per cent [Aboriginal] are you?’,” she said.
“They don’t realise that it’s actually really arrogant and hurtful to say that. Or they say ‘you’re so fair, you don’t look like you’re Aboriginal’.
“It’s annoying because I get the comments so often but most of the time they’re not trying to be rude, they’re just curious.”
Rather than get upset about the comments, the Dubbo model said she was hoping to educate people.
“I hope that people learn more about my culture and that it’s not about the colour of your skin, that’s not what makes you Aboriginal, it’s about your connection to the land, to the people, to the culture,” she said.
Ms Dodd started modelling when she was 16. She was one of the national winners of the Aboriginal Model Search which lead to her being signed with two agencies.
Now she’s about to step onto the international stage.
At the end of the month Ms Dodd will walk for Vanessa Moe at Fashion Week in Brazil. That’ll be followed by a trip to Seychelles in October for World Indigenous Fashion Week.
“I feel like it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m going. It’s a bit crazy,” she said.
“In Brazil and at World Indigenous Fashion Week there’s going to be lots of reporters and heaps of media coverage so it’s definitely going to help me and shape my career in the direction I want to go.”
In the meantime, the model said she would be ignoring all the people who had something negative to say.
“I’m just lucky I have family and friends who get behind me and support me… I know the best thing to do is keep pushing and going towards my goals because that’s the best way to prove people wrong,” Ms Dodd said.
So what advice does Ms Dodd have for anyone in a similar situation?
“Don’t listen to what everyone says, just keep pushing and if you want to do something, go ahead and do it. I’ve been told ‘no’ by a lot of people and if I gave up I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said.
Ms Dodd is raising money to pay for her flights to Seychelles. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/get-kaitlen-to-fashion-week.