Written for Fac Magazine.
Graphic design student Farouk Alao talks racism, confidence and it’s effect on his career in the modelling industry.
NAME: Farouk Alao
ORIGIN: Nigeria/ Dublin
COURSE: Graphic Design
COLLEGE: Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)
From streets to runways, Farouk Alao is no man to shy away from the camera but is this confident exterior a wholesome image of Farouk? With Instagram becoming more and more popular, the pressure to be an “Insta-queen” or “Insta-feen” is increasingly growing amongst youths. The seemingly confident Farouk reveals that he is no stranger to these Insta-induced bouts of self-doubt as he too battles with self-confidence.
Amid all the usual teenage angst, Farouk got diagnosed with ADHD causing him what he described as “ebbing flows of happiness and sadness” and knocking his self-esteem. Although these episodes are now “fewer and far between”, self-confidence is something the 21-year-old consistently keeps in-check in his everyday life.
Farouk lives his life strictly by the “idgaf” regime- about his dress, his walk, his anything. One event in particular came to mind where he was in a barber listening to MIA- Paper Planes. The glares he was getting from the guy beside him made him question his song choice, so he turned it down, before thinking “f!ck that, and I turned that sh!t back up full blast”.
According to the LSAD student, the 3 second rule is the trick to live by (no, not the dropped food one) – the 3 second lifespan of your relationship with a stranger. As Farouk broke it down, the likelihood of you seeing the same person on the street again is so slim; “letting that bother you is so pointless to your happiness”.
“People think if you love yourself, you’re just a prick with a massive ego, but that’s stupid. Like, if I don’t love myself how will I know what love feels like?”
Farouk also revealed the impact race played on his self-confidence growing up, opening up on his research into skin lightening as a teen. Thankfully the young graphic designer is now comfortable in himself and his skin colour: “I love myself, I love my skin, I don’t really care what people have to say about me”.
Luckily for Farouk, race played no part in his modelling career, as he explained the industry is open to all types of people but warns it’s “cruel” and can make you “stupid self-conscious” as it highlights issues of wealth and body.
However, no student budget or self-conscious industry was coming in the way of Farouk and his passion for fashion as he explains how he “cracked the code about charity shops” allowing him to buy high fashion clothing at low cast prices.
Although he admits his career in modelling was somewhat accidental, referring to his application as “like entering the lottery, not expecting to win”, Farouk is grateful for the experiences it has given him and the connections it allowed him to make.
In an aside to young people aspiring to model, Farouk encourages you to put yourselves out there without getting sucked down the rabbit hole of self-comparison. Stay true to yourself and stay true to self love.