“I had to detach myself from my job, see myself as a product in order to not succumb into the darkness of self loathing, body dysmorphia and other lovely traits that hide within many. When working I say to myself, ‘I am a product. It’s not about you. It’s about the vision these people have for their product and you just either happen to fit or not into their idea.’” Adesuwa Aighewi tells me this in a 2016 interview. Easier said than done for sure, but considering Aighewi’s end goal was never to be a model, this mantra has always come more easily than most in her industry.
Raised between the U.S. and Nigeria, the child of a Chinese and Thai mother and Nigerian father, Adesuwa and her family moved around a lot. While in college studying chemistry in Maryland she was discovered and after a period of trying to model and finish school she left her studies for Los Angeles.
In that interview she also told me her ultimate game plan once her career reached a certain point. Never, ever wanting to remain modeling forever, she said, “I want to do documentaries that change the way people view Africa.”
In the two years since, Adesuwa has significantly grown her platform. She’s walked in Chanel, Dior, and Gucci (this year alone), become a familiar face all over New York Times’ Fashion Instagram page, written an op-ed about her hair for The Guardian, and was most recently selected as one the member’s of 2018’s DAZED 100, a list of 100 individuals having their moment that the magazine names every year. If you aren’t familiar with high cheekbones and joyful smile at this point, you have to wonder really how into fashion you are.
In addition to all her modeling career-based accomplishments, LOVE Magazine has opted to leverage Adesuwa as an editor-at-large. She recently told DAZED, “I want all the covers, all the jobs and all the exposure,” she says. “Then I can travel the world and create art–not art for art’s sake, but educational propaganda dressed as beautiful art.” Her debut video piece is called "Spring in Harlem". She worked with Harlem-based fashion photographer Joshua Woods and it's clear this is the first step in her master plan.
“A lot of the reason I did this video is to show how I see the world. They say that you don’t see the world as it is, you see the world as you are. A lot of images I’ve seen of women in hijabs are negative. I want to show the world that Islam isn’t a scary thing. I want everyone to see what I see.”
Featuring Bintou Kaba (wearing orange), Fanta Conte (yellow), Sira kante (blue), Cire Kaba (coral pink), and Fatim Camara (black), the piece follows the five young women through a market in Harlem, New York while they discuss their backgrounds, how they looked at Islam during their childhood, and its importance in their lives now.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Muslim World Today.