Activist and artist.
THE BEAUTY TALK
WHAT PART OF YOUR FEMININITY DO YOU FEEL EMPOWERING? IS IT LINKED TO THIS AFRICAN CULTURE YOU ARE PROMOTING SINCE IT HAS BECOME SUCH A HUGE PART OF YOUR JOB AND LIFE?
My heritage has a lot to do with the way I feel about myself. I gained a lot of confidence because of that. I know where I come from and my ancestors have taken me back to educate me, to honor me, to love me through the experience of being in Nigeria, and I feel loved. I feel so loved. I think that is what inspires my femininity the most: the love that I feel just by being here. You know, by experiencing what I experience. Sitting down with people and whenever I say something everyone starts to listen and I’m not even trying to say anything meaningful, I’m just talking about having a conversation, you know (laughs). To me it’s not about being beautiful, it is about being heard. And when you are heard, it is when your beauty transpires. Expressing my femininity, to me, is about exploring my multi-faceted cultural experience and also speaking about it.
AND OWNING IT MAKES YOU FEEL POWERFUL.
Yeah. And that causes an impact on people, an instant impact. Sometimes I’m like “why are you crying?” (Laughs). Like a tall man tearing up when he is talking to me… it is so weird (laughs).
AND SKINCARE-WISE, WHAT ARE THE MORE “DOWN-TO-EARTH” THINGS THAT HELP YOU FEEL AT YOUR BEST? DO YOU HAVE A BEAUTY ROUTINE?
I sometimes want to have a routine but I don’t know how to! (Laughs). I would say that I have beauty habits that are sporadic. I love to make my own products which is very interesting because I can explore all these different textures and smells which stimulate my sensory self and I love to do that. That is very feminine to me. You can feel it on your skin and how smooth it gets, or how aroma changes on your skin. It’s such a powerful thing. So I love oils. Natural oils, essential oils, coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil… I have so many oils! The oil thing is the best because there isn’t a specific indication on how to use it. Only very few of them cannot be swallowed. But all the other ones, you can just eat them. Like olive oil; sometimes I’m cooking and I’m putting some in my hair! (Laughs). I love that flexibility! I use oil on my hair, on my skin… I just bought some shea butter from Nigeria, pure shea butter. And it is so amazing because it protects my skin from the sun, it also gives me this really nice buttery feel, it hydrates my skin so much, it makes it more elastic, it gives it a firmer aspect… I like exploring those more natural things since I also realized the beauty industry has been so cruel to women. Not only on the advertisement aspect, but also the chemical part. The chemical part is the hardcore one; besides all these heavy metals that are present in the products, you have really toxic ingredients we don’t know about because they are listed under complicated terms that we cannot understand. For example “Mineral Oil”, this comes from petrol. It’s crazy… You find yourself putting petrol oil on your face! Us, women, have been sold this idea of how we can be beautiful forever which is a torture. It makes you feel really unhappy about yourself, all the time. If that cream didn’t put away the wrinkle X on your eye, than you are miserable for the rest of your day. To me, the whole beauty regime is really about the sensorial experience and having the creativity to putting your own little products together. It is very liberating, you just feel free to do whatever with the best raw products.
But it is different for people like you and me, since we have been exposed to this kind of information for longer, coming from a more globalized world. We can use that information and research to find out about how it is not a positive thing for us to be these beauty addicts. But you and me represent like 0,002% of the population (laughs). The rest of the world is still on another rhythm. When times are difficult, people just want to try to look good.
IS THERE ANY BEAUTY HABIT YOU PICKED FROM WHEN YOU WERE LIVING IN NYC THAT YOU MISS?
I really miss the Korean spas! (Laughs). Where you just get a good rub and take all this dead skin off of your body... So nice! I really miss that. I also miss the cultural thing where you could just go to Chinatown’s little pharmacies where they don’t even speak English and where you can buy all these powders and roots and mix them with your own products to give you a healthier lifestyle. I miss those little places to explore.
DID YOU FIND ANYTHING LIKE THAT HERE IN BRAZIL? THERE MUST BE PLACES WHERE YOU FIND AMAZING ROOTS AND NATURAL PRODUCTS FROM THE RAINFOREST…
I just got a book form my friend who owns a cosmetic line called Ewé Cosméticos which means “folha” (editor’s note: leaf) in Yoruba, my language. This book of cosmetology explains everything about the distillation of the ingredients to how to mix them to get a pure extract out of it… I’m learning a lot about that and I really want to go more into the plants world as well. For the moment I am into oils and learning about natural lotions.
DO YOU EVER WEAR MAKE-UP?
Yes, I am wearing make-up right now.
IT IS SO NATURAL…
Hahaha. That was the goal.
WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU USE?
As I have been very tired lately, I use concealer and a little bit of blush. I use MAC a lot, which is very commercial but they have the right colors for my skin. I also use some stuff from L’Oréal. There are more and more organic and natural make-up lines, but still not available here in Brazil.
ANY BRAZILIAN BEAUTY HABIT?
Hydrating my skin. That is the most important thing. I really hate when I don’t have oil on me (laughs). My skin is so dry, it really bothers me.
Brazilian women are very much into “hidratante”, if you go to any Brazilian woman’s home or talk to one, they will always have a hydrating lotion.
HOW ABOUT SPORTS? I KNOW THAT YOU ARE DOING POLE DANCE. YOU SAID IT HAD A LOT TO DO WITH SENSUALITY AND CONFIDENCE AND EVEN KIND OF THERAPEUTICAL. DOES IT HELP YOU FEEL MORE FEMININE AND BEAUTIFUL?
I‘ve been a dancer my whole life and I learned that pole dancing makes you strong. Becoming stronger, having a strong posture, learning the limitations of my body and how to overcome those limitations, has a lot to do with psychology. The first week you can’t even hold yourself up for more than 5 seconds, but then when you manage to do it and you are upside down, it blows your mind! Of course it also makes you much more aware of your body. It makes you much more accepting of your body, because even if you have a little weight on, you can still manage to do it. And also you have to do it in small little shorts and top, there is no way that you will look at yourself and hate what you see, every single day of practice. Of course the sensual part and the community part is really nice because we help each other. It really makes sense to me because it makes me stronger in every way.