Saturday, 8 October 2016

DEALING WITH BODY SHAMING


Hi.

So let us talk about my weight gain, shall we?

In the past few months, I have put on more of those pounds in some areas I like (wink) and in some I don’t. At the beginning of the year, I was a size 14 and now, I am a size 16. This has meant getting bigger clothes, worrying about not being able to tuck in my belly anymore and generally feeling out of sorts with them Christian mother upper arms. That is where the rosy stuff ends. Imagine that this is what I call rosy.

Few weeks ago, I went out to get something for breakfast and this okada rider whom I have known for a while was passing by. I said hello and continued on my way. The man stopped his okada and said hello. I saw that he wanted to tell me something so I went back to hear him out. I assumed what he wanted to tell me must be pretty important because he was willing to waste the time of his customer to talk to me. He looked at me and said, ‘Do you know that you have multiplied? You are so fat now oh! E be like say this Buhari regime no dey affect you. This fatness too much na!’

I was shocked beyond words. My eyes flitted to the passenger, who looked as embarrassed as I was. The woman started pinching him to get him to go his way (or maybe shut up) but he remained put. I turned back to him and said, I knew. I started walking away again when he spoke; and this time, a little louder.

‘But you dey exercise bah?’

I laughed about it and asked why I should. The man didn’t understand that the laughter was forced and my embarrassment great. He tried to say something else but this time, I turned and walked away.

I was, in all honesty, ashamed of what I had gone through. This man, who is just a face I know, whom I have never had a conversation with beyond cursory greetings, felt he had the RIGHT to tell me that I had MULTIPLIED. I was so hurt that I stewed for days about the incident. I kept telling myself that he was unimportant and didn’t deserve the time I spent thinking about his affront but the gall of it all kept me bothered.

When I finally stopped thinking of the man, I got an even more annoying treatment. I went to an evening service in church about a month ago. For the first time in months, I wore a short sleeved dress. At the end of service, two church ‘friends’ cornered me, one on my right and the other on my left. I was between rows so I was totally cornered. While one was asking what I was eating that was making me SO FAT, the other wrapped her palms around my upper arms, showing me that her two palms couldn’t go all the way around my Christian mother hands. She went further to shake my hand so she could see that flabby skin jiggle. For the first time in my life, anger wasn’t my go-to emotion; shame was. Tears gathered in my eyes and I faked a laugh to cover up my hurt.

Recently, I put up a picture - the one above - on Instagram recently and someone wrote, ‘Ha ahn! You have put on so much weight’ and sealed the statement with sad smiley faces. After about a minute, the person deleted the post, probably realizing how they sounded and feeling contrite. The thing is, though the comment was deleted, I HAD SEEN IT! I couldn’t un-see the comment and un-feel the hurt that came from reading the person’s disappointment at MY weight gain. Couple that with the numerous comments on Facebook from ‘friends’ who feel they need to remind me that ‘you were more beautiful when you were slimmer. Better watch your weight oh!’ and I finally broke.

My self confidence level dropped. Who am I kidding? It was in free fall! And though I know I am a size 16, which is only slightly bigger than what goes for ‘normal’ in our society, the fat shaming left me wondering if my weight was that repulsive.

Thing is, I used to always be a confident girl. I was never one to bow to pressure and do what everyone expects. I always love to do me and be me and live as I want. That being said, the last few months have chipped off some of that confidence. I may be strong and portray the sticks-and-stones persona but I am admitting that fat shaming words have hurt me. Let me tell you how bad it got.

Since 2012, I have been more of a recluse than a bubbly socialite. I started enjoying my own company better than hangouts with people so I kept to myself more. As my confidence level dropped, I became an even bigger recluse. I could stay at home for an entire week without so much as stepping to the gate. I didn’t want people to constantly tell me that I am so fat and blah. And because my confidence level dropped, my stuttering increased. Yes, I bet you didn’t know I stutter. This means that when I am out in public, I keep wondering if people are looking at me wondering about my weight. And because I was thinking of it, I remained silent instead of the good talker that I used to be. This made the depression I was feeling from being out of work even more profound. I could go on and on but I will stop here. I don’t want to lose my street cred.

Why am I doing this? It is quite simple. When I did a similar post on my body being your problem, many people sent me mails telling me how I inspired them to deal with body shaming. They told me my confidence and self-worth made them feel stronger and more willing to shut out the shaming voices. As beautiful as that made me feel, I know it would be wrong to only be seen as strong and not sometimes weak.

In essence, I am saying that I bruise easily, that I was hurt by strangers and ‘friends’ who felt it was funny or their place to put me on a spot and assess my body. My confidence level nose-dived and I felt unattractive and sometimes, downright repulsive. I felt shame for putting on that weight and allowing people who shouldn’t have a say in my life taper off the my spark. I had to deal with depression from being ashamed of myself and my weight gain. But guess what? It is OKAY to feel all that!

I let the body shamers drown out the fact that I AM A SUPER WOMAN. I should never have forgotten that I am five B’s; big, bold, brainy, beautiful AND blessed! I am awesome, attractive, appealing and best of all, the quality of my mind rocks! I am epic like that! I am not less than I am because I put on some weight, or look a bit different. I may not be attractive to some people but that is OKAY too! What matters to me is that the one I want to be attracted to me, is.

I don’t want to lose weight. Okay, I want a flatter tummy but for medical reasons, that is in the bag for now. Growing up, I was straight and all I wanted was some curves. Now that I am chubby, the curves finally came in. Can somebody shout a hallelujah?! I know losing weight would mean going back to that straight body and no, those days are gone people! Halleluyah!

What I am saying is, if you have been body shamed in anyway, feel free to cry, hide away, sulk, and cower or whatever it is that you do but always remember that you are awesome! Keep in mind that despite how strong Sam and Dean Winchester are, they still get the crap beaten out of them and in some cases, even die and go to hell. However, no matter how many times they are hard done by, they always rise up and fight again. So…there is nothing wrong with feeling down from being put down. But like a man I respect said, as long as you can look up, you can get back on your feet. Take your time, let the hurt ride out, but never stay too long under water that you forget how to breathe.

And this is usually where I put up my middle finger to the shamers, and pour out all sorts of vitriol but you know what… they are not worth it. Putting me down taught me a valuable lesson; being down in the dumps doesn’t make me any less of a strong, super woman. So thank you for the condescension, the bile and the downright insults. In Waje’s words, ‘thought you left me for bad, but you left me for good.’


Much gracias people!

4 comments:

  1. Actually this read is interesting. Regarding body shaming, its something I do have views on and the media, rather the entertainment industry continues to mold our minds and perceptions subconsciously. We do not notice but it is happening, has been happening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. The media has played (and is playing a huge role) in shaping the minds of people about this. Thank God we are changing the rhetoric.

      Delete
  2. Those church 'friends' would have left with extra 'anointing' after I Wacker their faces! The audacity!!! People need to realise that the word 'boundaries' exists for a reason!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Those church 'friends' would have left with extra 'anointing' after I Wacker their faces! The audacity!!! People need to realise that the word 'boundaries' exists for a reason!

    ReplyDelete