EACH African woman living in Perth has her own story about why and how she came to Australia, and some who arrive as refugees have accounts most of us cannot comprehend.
As Zambian-born Yokine stylist Mutale Chitolo explained, many consequently suffer low self-esteem, intensified by living in a new community.
With an eye for fashion and a kind spirit, Mutale offers professional advice and positive reinforcement, helping these migrants to regain confidence and live more fulfilling lives.
“We have to showcase who we are,” she told Guardian Express.
“Sometimes African people get bad media coverage, but we can demonstrate that we are great as well – we look after ourselves and are capable of being anything we want to be.”
For the past eight years, the style-savvy local, who came to Perth more than a decade ago to study business and law, has worked as choreographer and consultant for the Miss Africa Perth pageant and last year launched an image consultancy company offering wardrobe advice and colour analysis.
Recently, she tuned to television, hosting a weekly fashion segment for The Couch on Aurora Channel 183 on Foxtel, interviewing local boutique owners and designers.
“I think it’s important to take pride in your appearance, not for vanity’s sake but to make sure your first impression counts,” Mutale said.
“One woman I helped recently from Zambia was lacking esteem and didn’t know how to dress for her size, so I took her shopping and got a sense of who she is and what she likes. I believe that instead of trying to change who you are, you should embrace what you have and work with it.
“I received a testimonial from her afterwards saying I helped changed her life. She had given herself permission to look and feel good – she didn’t feel she deserved that beforehand.
“Confidence-building isn’t an overnight thing. I let all my clients and girls in Miss Africa know they are worthy of respect and love and then it’s up to them – they’re in charge of their own happiness.”
– Miss Africa Perth 13 is at Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley on May 25 in celebration of African Liberation Day.