Nigerian-American beauty entrepreneur Tolu Oye has been featured in a new edition of American fashion bible, Vogue.
Tolu who is a fashion student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, shared with the editors the culture struggles growing up as an American immigrant with parents who insisted on instilling her and her siblings her African heritage.
“As a child, I resented my mother’s love for Ankara and her desire to pass that love on to my siblings and me. I hated the way the rough texture rubbed against my skin and the looks I got for wearing it out in public. On Sundays, in preparation for church, my siblings and I would angrily rummage underneath our beds for our wrinkled traditional clothes, counting down the hours until we were able to return home and rip them off our bodies. We would all scurry to the car, hoping not to be seen by our neighbours, who always looked at us questionably whenever they saw us in our traditional attire.”
She revealed she began to fall in love with Nigeria and her culture after a visit to the country.
“It wasn’t until my mother forced me to take a trip to Nigeria in 2012, that I began to understand the importance of home and the privilege of being able to return. As soon as we arrived in Nigeria, my grandmother invited all the children in the community to eat with us. One by one, she filled our plates with rice and stew, giving seconds and thirds, until we were all full and sitting comfortably in her front yard. For the first time, I saw my mother with her family, laughing and catching up on lost time—I thought it was beautiful. For the first time, I regretted all the years I had spent hating my culture.”
She would later return to American, in February this year, and whilst visiting, she gathered Nigerian friends and extended family and took a remake of the photos with them in fabrics that she cut and sew herself.
And when Nigeria’s independence came on Tuesday, October 1st, she marked Nigeria’s 59th year in existence with the photos.
Read more on the feature on vogue.com
By Sarah Oyedo