By Zeinab Diouf
Boston University News Service
Though her shimmering eyeshadow looks and airbrush-like foundation application have earned BU junior Atiyyah Mayale-Eke over 60,000 TikTok followers, there was once a time when the makeup guru would not approach even a tube of lip gloss.
“I used to actually hate makeup. My sister would put lip gloss near me and I would fight her,” Mayale-Eke said. “I detested it but really it was only a matter of time before art and expression came to me.”
During the pandemic, TikTok skyrocketed to popularity, offering many people refuge from the boredom of quarantine. The 20-year-old, however, initially refused to install the social media app.
“During quarantine, when TikTok was very much doing the most and everyone and their mother was on it, my mom and sister would send me stuff and I’d be like ‘Ugh, I don’t wanna install it,’ but then I did,” Mayale-Eke said. “I started posting because I was making makeup content on Instagram already so after a while of scrolling through videos, I was like ‘You know what? I can post my videos on here.’”
Just 18 months after joining TikTok, Mayale-Eke’s videos have amassed thousands of views. Her aesthetic yet candid TikToks have earned her a credible reputation among her fan base. The beauty influencer was quickly approached by Crest, Revlon, Charlotte Tilbury and NYX Cosmetics to partner in brand and sponsorship deals.
“For me, it’s a number one rule that if I don’t align myself with a brand that reaches out, I’m going to turn down the offer,” Mayale-Eke said. “I’m not going to sacrifice myself in what I’m doing so that I can get a check or I can get this brand’s name on my resume.”
Mayale-Eke’s dedication to authenticity is not exclusive to her business dealings. Mayale-Eke makes a point to film “high-quality and up-close videos” in an effort to normalize textured skin, hyperpigmentation and blemishes. Mayale-Eke’s transparency was rewarded when several empowered fans wrote to her that they were now inspired to wear makeup.
“I feel me being a Black woman, a Muslim woman and a hijabi — all of those things aren’t something you see very often,” Mayale-Eke said. “I am very grateful to have found a space and I’ve found some people who are like, ‘Oh my god, I want to start using color more!’ or ‘This video made me start wanting to do makeup.’”
Mayale-Eke makes a conscious effort to promote inclusivity because she believes diverse voices have long been excluded from the beauty sector.
“Something that really inspired me is that you don’t really see a lot of Black and brown folk in the makeup world and if you do, they tend to not be given appreciation or recognition,” Mayale-Eke said. “It wasn’t that long ago when there were only three shades for dark-skin people.”
Though the self-taught artist has found massive success in content creation, she currently wishes to focus on her academics. Mayale-Eke envisions a post-graduate career in computer science but ultimately is unsure of what she wants to pursue. The one thing she does know for sure is that makeup will always be a viable career.
See some of Mayale-Eke’s makeup looks here.
This story is a part of a series of interviews with local TikTokers. Read more here.