In 2014, a photograph of Linda Okello, a Kenyan traffic police officer, took the internet by storm.
Ex-cop Linda Okello curious how her tight skirt photo resurfaces every December
Returning to Kenya for the first time in years, Linda Okello, ex-traffic officer famous for her viral tight-skirt photo, expressed her surprise at the image resurfacing on the trend list every December
Little did she know that this viral moment would change the trajectory of her life forever.
Speaking in an interview with Citizen TV on Wednesday, September 20, Linda for the first time opened up about how the unexpected fame affected her career and personal life.
Linda Okello: From aspiring air hostess to traffic cop
Linda Okello's journey into the world of law enforcement was not her initial career choice. She had dreamed of becoming an air hostess, a profession she aspired to since childhood.
However, fate had other plans for her, and she eventually found herself in a police uniform.
She began her career with the police force, dedicating 16 years to her role as a traffic police officer. Over time, Linda developed a genuine passion for her job.
The viral photo that changed Linda Okello's life
The turning point in Linda's life came unexpectedly. On a certain day, while she was performing her duties, someone captured her in police uniform while on a phone call with her boss, receiving instructions for her duty at a Safari Rally event.
"I did not know that the photo was taken," Linda recalls. "When I found out, I was so overwhelmed. I received a lot of phone calls, my bosses read about it, and I was summoned for possible punishment on the grounds that I was scantily dressed."
The photograph thrust Linda into the spotlight, making her one of the most searched individuals on Google. The sudden fame brought both positive and negative consequences.
The photo's popularity led to an investigation into Linda's attire that day. She faced accusations of not wearing a proper police uniform.
After the investigation, they concluded that she was not inappropriately dressed for work.
“I had been wearing it for seven years, my bosses saw me in that skirt before. They saw me in that uniform in the morning during the debrief before going for that assignment.
"I was frustrated by my bosses because of the photo, they thought I was talking to the media but that was not the case because I rejected all the media interviews,” she explained.
However, the aftermath of the incident had lasting effects on Linda's career. She was transferred to Molo shortly after the investigation.
While she embraced the change, as police officers are expected to work anywhere in the country, she felt let down by some of her colleagues.
"I felt let down, especially by my fellow women," Linda reflects. "If they could have protected me, it could not have gotten that far. Remember I was in traffic, and every time I would stop a vehicle, I would hear whispers, which was very uncomfortable and made my job a bit difficult."
Subsequently, Linda decided to silently disappear from the public eye. She believed that the photo had altered people's perception of her, affecting her career within the police force. Promotions became elusive, and she faced professional frustration.
Linda Okello's new beginning abroad
With her career prospects in Kenya diminishing, Linda decided to seek new opportunities abroad.
She moved to the United States where she embarked on a new path. Today, Linda is a successful behavior therapist, finding fulfillment in her work.
Reflecting on her journey, Linda acknowledges the challenges she faced but expresses contentment with her current life.
"I am doing well, and I am happy about myself," she says.
Linda Okello surprised that her viral photo still resurfaces every December
Despite leaving Kenya and starting anew, Linda remains surprised that the viral photo resurfaces every December, becoming a trending topic.
She acknowledges that her daughter, who is now 13 years old, understands her mother's unexpected fame.
"I trend every time, especially in December. There's something that always happens in December and my photos will be everywhere.
"And my daughter would come and tell me, mummy, I've seen you. I think she understands now, She is a big girl now," she said.
In 2014, Linda Okello took legal action against a local media house for publishing the viral photo. The court awarded her Shs6.5 million in damages.
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