When Adetutu Alabi decided she wanted to model, she got a lot of negative responses from people. The question on everyone’s mind was “how do you model with tribal marks?” In Africa, Nigeria specifically, that is a very legitimate question what with the definition of beauty splashed on the media. If you are slim, tall and fair, you are every photographer’s dream and as for modelling with that type of physical attribute? You are just several steps away from hitting the runway.
Adetutu doesn’t fit into this beauty stereotype in anyway. Not only does she have tribal marks, she is dark skinned (which doesn’t garner as much recognition as light skinned does, especially in this part of the world) and a single mum (which is heavily frowned upon) All the odds were against her, but this single mum of one has proven to us that when you have a dream and you are willing to persist in the pursuit of its achievement, you will surely get it. Not only has Adetutu gotten several face modelling contracts, she spearheaded a challenge on social media- Instagram to encourage people with tribal marks to embrace their kind of beauty. As much as she advocates for the inclusion of different kinds of beauty, she is also actively advocating for the ban of facial scarring without consent. According to her, her facial marks earned her disapproving stares from people and has remained the foremost reason why her romantic relationships haven’t thrived. In her own words:
“One of the reasons the father of my child absconded was because of my tribal marks; He could not be with me in public and he only made us meet at night. I felt I was the ugliest girl in the world. I got fed up with relationships because men didn’t always want to go out with me during the day; they would prefer to be with me at night.”
Her social media movement has helped to give visibility to the plight of people with tribal marks in Nigeria. The movement has also helped in getting people to rethink the way beauty is understood thereby creating a more inclusive and socially healthy environment for (wo)men to be themselves, be heard and seen irrespective of their color, size and shape. Adetutu’s movement has gained recognition from quite a number of celebrities in Africa and beyond including Rihanna.
So inspiring! You go girl!