United States

Dispossession Couture

Media Sighting

Photography by Eric Lafforgue. Image source:
Photography by Eric Lafforgue. Image source:

If all you want right now is an uplifting story about the indomitability of the human spirit:

The tribal inhabitants of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley are resourceful, resilient people with beautiful teeth. They transform garbage into treasured adornments, literally weaving the by-products of throwaway consumer culture into their traditions and rituals to create “vibrant postmodern couture.” Style is integral to their daily life, with self-decoration and ornamentation establishing one’s identity and place within the tribe. Beauty is valued so highly that the tribespeople make time among the other tasks required to survive their harsh environment to craft elaborate wigs, headpieces, and jewelry.

If grim truths and the difficult realities of human existence are more your thing:

The tribespeople of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley are adorning themselves with the symbols of their own inevitable destruction. The bottle caps, the wristwatches, the SIM cards, are all spillover from the industrialized, modern world encroaching on their ancestral homelands and eroding their traditional ways of life. The tribes of the Omo Valley are fast approaching full contact with the western world, a process only sped up by the busloads of tourists now coming by to take pictures of “the trendy tribespeople.”


  • AJF Staff Writer

    The current AJF Staff Writer is Dina Noto. In the past, our staff writers have included Susan Cummins, Bonnie Levine, and Kerianne Quick, among others. 

Similar Entries
Scroll to Top