From the timid girl with the tribal marks who refused to attend college for fear of bullies ridiculing her, to the beautiful and bold woman who caught Rihanna’s attention when she started up a campaign on social media to model for Fenty Beauty, Adetutu Alabi is a mixture of determination, strength and purpose. VIVIENNE BELONWU caught up with the model who recently got featured in Davido’s ‘Wonder Woman’ video alongside some other badass women.
You mentioned you had numerous ‘ugly’ experiences, where you were discriminated against because of the tribal marks on your face. Tell us that one experience that struck you as the most absurd.
The incident that struck me as the most absurd was a Fashion Designer here in Lagos that I worked with as an embellishment designer. She called me one day and said I should conceal my tribal marks whenever I’m coming to her place. I chose my face over her will, so I quit.
You’ve talked openly about the end of your relationship with your daughter’s father. What came next? How did you adjust to life as a single, working mother?
When my baby’s father left, I was able to get help from Pastor Ituah Ighodalo through his foundation (Lydia Grace Foundation). With their help I was able to get back on my feet and juggle caring for my daughter and running my business and modelling career.
Is he involved in his daughter’s life at the moment?
He is not involved one bit but really, my daughter and I do not need his involvement because he is a distraction.
You once said that you felt like you were the ugliest girl in the world. At what point would you say you began to feel acceptance and love for yourself?
The real self love journey started in 2016 when I was trolled on Facebook. My online friends came for the troll until she apologised. Ever since then, I’ve gained more confidence to flaunt my face.
What was the toughest challenge you had to overcome in the journey to embracing your beauty and finding self love?
The toughest challenge was learning to ignore people who laughed at me or made snide comments [about me]. Ever since I started ignoring them, things have changed for the better.
Your campaign to become part of a Fenty Beauty campaign turned out to be a success. That was a bold move. Did you at any point fear that it wouldn’t work?
Yes, I was a bit scared when I started the campaign but I believed in the power of social media much more than I believed in my fears and it worked for me.
The campaign also opened doors to interviews and features on various media platforms. Has all the attention had any impact on your career as a model?
Well, yes I got featured in publications: interviews and photoshoots and my career as a model got more visibility than before. However, I’m still waiting for the ones that will bring money to my account. (Laughs).
You also recently got featured in Davido’s “Wonder Woman”. Was that your first music video experience?
Yes! That was my debut performance and I was really happy I got an invite from Davido. I wasn’t expecting that but it made me happy that I got no discrimination due to my tribal marks.
You chose not to go to university and rather opted to learn a trade. Any plans to go back?
Yes, I would love to go to my dream school, Ecole Lesage in Paris, to learn more on my tambour beading and embroidery skills.
What would you say to other girls who are still trying to get to that point of self-love and acceptance?
Love yourself first. Take selfies, ignore the bullies and do your own thing. It worked for me and helped build my confidence and hopefully it works for you too.