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Nigerian Agony Aunt Uses Instagram to Dole Out Advice

People send their pressing relationship questions to the “Fat Ibo Lady.”

If Instagramming is the new blogging, then Ziya’atulhaqq Usman Tahir is social media’s answer to Dear Prudence. The enterprising agony aunt has accrued more than 41,200 followers on her Instagram account, Fat Ibo Lady, where she posts anonymous letters from people seeking advice regarding problems in their loves lives. Writers inquire about secretive husbands, porn-addicted partners, or unrequited love. Sometimes they reach out with queries about sexual assault and rape. Tahir snaps the text and posts it to her account, creating a forum-like platform for people to discuss the issues at hand openly and honestly.

“There’s a woman that sent me her story, her husband rapes her every night. There’s another woman who sent me her story, for six months, her husband has been beating her,” she told BBC News. “Northern [Nigerian] women have been in pain and hopefully this is going to be a time for change.”

In the comments, her diverse and capable audience—who she calls her “jurors”—offer tips and advice, and Tahir dispenses her own words of wisdom. Tahir says that many people—and especially women—have trouble discussing things of a sexual or romantic nature out in the open. The Instagram account not only allows people to ask the questions they need answered, but fosters an environment that is conducive to dialogue in the comments sections.

“I think a lot of women in northern Nigeria think like that, if you have a problem with your husband you shouldn't say it, you should find a way to fix it, or pray for it. I’m all for prayers, but at times we have to speak,” Tahir told the BBC.

Tahir’s account is part of a larger trend of Instagram-blogging. Last November, New York magazine’s Kyle Chayka wrote that “people are increasingly turning toward Instagram not just as a place to post filtered photos, but to spill their lives and thoughts into the captions as well.” No longer just a live photostream of your meal plan, Instagram has become a nouveau type of blogging. But Tahir has taken it one step further, using the comments section as a discussion board. Now that she’s conquered Instagram, however, she hopes to move on to a more traditional form of media: TV.

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