Woi, woi, woi.
Chei, chei, chei!
Asemmm o assssem!
I’m grieved! I’m injured! I’m damaged! God;I don’t know what to do! You people…you people wait for me, eh? I’m coming. I’ll explain just now.
This afternoon I was happily plugging along, carrying out my recruiting duties when I got an alert on my phone from a friend. The conversation has been paraphrased for your benefit.
She: Ei. I was doing my ratchet Friday reading when I came across this blog. The model looks JUST like you!
I get this a lot.
Oh, you look like Coco from SWV. Oh! You look like Queen Latifah in her younger years!
I was going to ignore the comment since I was in the throes of online sourcing, but decided to humor my friend since she said it was for the cause of “ratchet reading”.
Me: That’s because it IS me! What the %$@# is this?!?!
I scanned the contents of the blog. It was an open letter on the blogger’s advice column on relationships. I read the first line and felt fury, rage, disgust, horror, confusion…so many emotions bubble up within me!
I have been following your blog for a short time and I found you because I am dating a Nigerian Igbo man and was curious about his culture. I would like to post a question on your blog for some responses. Here is my story:
What was this? What lie was this? I have never heard of this blogger, let alone her site, but there was my face…a full color representation of a woman in love with a possibly swindling Igbo man who had no idea if he wanted to marry her for papers or was actually genuine in his feelings.
How? How was this possible? What is it about MY face, me my fine Abena Owusua Malaka Gyekye face, that screamed romantic agony and confusion, so much so that the author felt the need to attribute an obviously fabricated “agony aunt” tome to it? I just wanted to die. Strong me. Survivor me. And you use ME for this nonsense?
Jesus be a sword and a shield; a force field and a cattle prod.
I remember when I took this picture. It was about 4 years ago. Bessie Akuba was my photographer. I needed so beauty shots and she needed a test subject for a course she was taking. I don’t recall EVER posting that picture online. I don’t associate that picture with anything besides a sunny day spent with two good friends and some pretty decent photos. But NOW? Now my face was being used to represent a woman who couldn’t tell her head from her ass? Your Igbo beau won’t introduce you to his mother and so what? Now you want to cry? Leave him la!
I say, I’m grieved MOM Squad…so grieved. But guess what? I’m not alone. You could be a victim too.
A few years back there was an American/Canadian family who had traveled abroad and taken a picture at a tourist location. Almost a year later, an acquaintance contacted the parents to inform them that their picture was being used to sell soap or toothpaste, I can’t remember. I have no idea how the issue was resolved, because I didn’t read past the first paragraph. Your face is being used to sell soap and so what? Go and ‘tack the advertiser for your cut!
Now, I find myself the victim of the same folly. Who am I to attack and seek redress from? The blogger? After I contacted her to request she remove my image asap and find out where she found my face, she says she got the picture from Google images, and honestly couldn’t remember where she found it because it was “so long ago”.
How long ago? Years? Months? Has she been holding my picture in her photography stockpile just waiting for the right moment to disgrace me? Where did she find it? Pintrest? Instagram? Tumbl’r? Why gawd??? What have I done to deserve this? So many questions!
Look, I get it. On some level, I do understand. It’s hard out here for writers. We’re each trying to make a name for ourselves in whatever niche we’ve chosen. Social commentary laced with humor; this is my realm. Myne’s (the blogger in question) is romance…Nigerian romance, specifically. Powerful images, coupled with our writing craft, help us break into an already crowded playing field. Still, as bloggers seeking a bourgeoning social media presence, we each have a responsibility to use images responsibly and professionally, and that includes attributing sources. I will be the first to admit that I don’t ALWAYS do this. I have lapses, which is why as much as possible, I only use original images or seek permission from the photograph’s owner before posting. On Adventures, this is one of the reasons you see the same 30 or so images recycled again and again. We don’t want wahala.
Myne has taken down my face from her blog, but there is nothing to say that someone else isn’t out there clandestinely using it for a more sinister purpose. What if they are using my pink lips to draw some man into a 419 banking scheme or -*gasp!*- for a magazine cover selling alcohol-based hair moisturizer? Do you know the damage alcohol does to Black hair?
They -the interwebs – have hijacked my face. Please. #BrrringBackMyFace
Fadda lawd. Strength. I need strength!