the wodaabe are a nomadic people populating the sahel desert of west africa. once a year in a few select locations (here in niger), their tribe will gather to celebrate the tradition of gerewol, often referred to as a male beauty pageant, where the men painstakingly prepare themselves and then perform in front of an opinionated female crowd in the hopse of attracting their affectations.
when adorned and ready, the men begin the boisterous raume dance marathon, in which they sporadically mimic the posture and movements of the magical white egret. wodaabe women favor tallness, white eyes and teeth, and facial symmetry in their men, and both the dance and makeup job serve to accentuate these features.
photos by and paraphrased text from timothy allen