On ‘The Bar Therapy,’ Adetutu OJ talks bullying, motherhood and the moment Rihanna followed her on Instagram

On social media, Adetutu OJ is one of the best viral sensations of 2018, for the simple fact that she was bearing an aesthetic that has slid to the point of rarity: tribal marks. Having recreated her own version of a Rihanna photo last month, her crusade to model for the international pop star under Fenty took the internet by storm. It was indeed a compelling viral moment but Adetutu’s backstory is far from beautiful. “I was bullied for having tribal marks at school,” Adetutu says to Oscar Oyinsan on the recent episode of The Bar Room Therapy, “They said I was ugly and all sorts and even though I tried to make them my friends by writing their notes and doing assignments for them, it didn’t work.”

Adetutu got pregnant in 2009 and it came with shame and stigma, right into the delivery of her baby. On top of that, the father of her child dissociated himself from her because of her tribal marks. For me, this was the point in the interview I found a little stunning. Even Oscar cocked his head and said, “Didn’t he see that you had tribal marks before dating?” and to which she said with a small aloofness in her tone: “He said I didn’t look like the typical girl.”

Now Adetutu loves single parenting, her 9-year-old daughter the love of her life. Facebook kickstarted her fame in 2016, posting pictures of herself flaunting her tribal marks and the positive comments that ensued from random people. A particular account was reported for bullying her and Facebook clamped down on it. With enough zeal and determination, Adetutu reached towards Twitter. Then Instagram. Hello Rihanna. “How did you feel that night knowing Rihanna was now following you?” Oscar seemed genuinely curious, pouring her orange juice. For a moment, Adetutu is emotionally flustered, unable to form words. “I kept looking at my phone over and over to see if she was still following me. I couldn’t believe it.”

According to her, Rihanna is yet to sign her onto a modelling contract for Fenty, but Adetutu is very hopeful about the future. She will be thirty this month, an advocate for preserving culture and tradition but maintains that parents should seek consent from their children before scarring their faces with tribal marks. The episode wraps up with some motivations words from her: “Don’t wait for anyone to tell you are beautiful. Love yourself and be bold.”

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