Body Issues

This blog post is mainly an extension of Sankofa's post on her own blog, Altius Tendo, entitled 'You have such a pretty face...'. In her post, Sankofa describes the awkward manner in which people approach the issue of her weight and certain individuals' failed attempts to compliment her in spite of her size.

Unfortunately, Sankofa is not the only FAT girl who has had to deal with back handed compliments and snide remarks with regards to her weight. As a child, I grew up with my cousin. (For the purpose of this blog, we'll call her Amina). Amina is only five days older than me and our mothers are very close. We were therefore treated like sisters and often compared to one another. Me and Amina spent the majority playing (and fighting) with each other. We had the same interests, wore the same clothes (sometimes against our will!) and the same dislikes. In fact, there were a lot of similarities between us except:

1. Amina was (and still is) slimmer than me.

2. Amina is shades lighter than me.

3.Amina's hair was longer and not as tough as mine.

Now, in a Ghanaian family, you know exactly what that means. Amina was considered the beautiful one and we often heard comments like this: Amina is soooooo pretty and Oh! Amina is a nice girl. (You know what is intended by the word 'nice'). Whoever was making the comments at the time, would look at Amina with so much adoration in their eyes, then would turn to me with a pitiful look and /or a half smile. (Sometimes, I wouldn't even get a glance!) Now, I may not have been "beautiful", but I was certainly more smart academically. Thus Amina and I neatly fitted the stereotyped 'beauty and the brain'.

I must say, it didn't really bother me while we were really young, but at the age of 12/13, when a girl starts becoming more aware of her physical appearance and her physique, this started to become a problem. I won't comment on the hair and skin tone issue because these were things I eventually learnt to accept, and even love. But as for the weight, well, that is still very much an issue I am still dealing with.

When I started secondary school, I was most definitely the biggest girl in the class. No questions asked. It did not help that my bra size was a 32B. It may not seem like much, but trust me, in 1998, that was big for an 11 year old. (I am well aware that 11 year olds these days look like full grown women). I won't pretend that I spent my all of my secondary school years self loathing, but I was bothered about my size. However, I was very good at covering up my insecurities and acting like the insensitive comments didn't bother me one bit. Covering up my insecurities did somehow turn into fake confidence, and although I don't know exactly when it happened, by the time I started sixth form, I was beginning to feel beautiful. Don't get me wrong, there were knock backs on the way. Let me give you an example: I remember at the age of around 14, I was at my cousin's house one night. My other cousins were there. Altogether there was about seven of us (including Amina). We were in my cousin's room, watching T.V. There were three boys and four of us girls. I can't remember what I did to upset one of my cousins, but all of a sudden he, (let's call him J) started laying into me, verbally. The things spewing out of his mouth were venom. "You need to lay off the donuts you fat bitch" and all sorts were coming out of his mouth like word vomit. I mean, I have never hated any of my cousins, including J, but I was hurt for ages, especially since none of my other cousins stood up for me, but found J's abuse hilarious. I must confess that Amina was the only one mature enough to apologise afterwards.

Anyway let's fastforward eight years, I (sort of) don't have the same beef I have with my weight. Don't get me wrong, I do believe I am attractive, and not ugly by any stretch of the imagination. however, let's not pretend that I am a size zero. Also, I am still having to deal with people's annoying comments. Let me give you an example. Earlier this year, I was with an...acquaintance, (let's hold back from calling her a friend), we had just finished a night of rehearsing a church performance, and by the end of the night, we were all famished, so I started going on about what I wanted to eat. Hear my girl: that is why you are so fat! I was knocked back by those words because it had been ages since I had heard those words. Also, I didn't think grown-ass women made digs at each other like that. Plus, I thought it was below the belt since we had had a discussion earlier where I told her that my weight was the cause of frustration for me because it is one of the only areas in my life that I find hard to control. (That's "friends" for you *sigh*).

I have come to the conclusion that I can't afford to rely on other people to make me feel good about myself. That is something I will have to do by myself. I mean, I do have issues with my weight, but loving myself is something I am learning to do everyday.After going on a countless amount of diets (and gym memberships!), I have come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, God, in His infinite wisdom, created me to be fat. It seems with everyone there is always something about themselves they have an issue with. Which is why like Sankofa, I don't have time for people that go on and on about how much they hate their belly, their big nose, their small boobs etc etc.

Oh yeah, back to Amina - it's funny how a bit of maturity will allow you to see things totally differently. Please don't get me wrong, Amina and I have BOTH grown up to be beautiful women, but I don't feel, AT ALL, that she is the more beautiful one. I look at us, and think wow! I may be a few kilos heavier, but Amina and I are EQUALLY beautiful in our DIFFERENT ways.

Let me leave by telling you this: everyone has body issues, but it is up to YOU to deal with yours. Do not rely on ANYBODY to help you get over them. Also, ranting about what you don't like about yourself is BORING for those who have to listen to you. The chances are your so called 'listener' does not really care about your complaints. Also by ranting, you are only drawing attention to what people would not have noticed in the first place. Most importantly, God must feel so insulted everytime you open your mouth to say you hate something about yourself that He created.

Anyway reader, whtaever your issues are, learn to appreciate what you have.


7 opinionated people have something to say:

Nana said...

I hear you girlfriend! I so hate the way people feel free to comment on other people's bodies - it is rund and disrespectful, especially when you know you do not intend your comment as a compliment. I so have issues with them and now when anyone makes a comment about what I'm eating or of late what I get is "Are you going to eat at this time" (implying its too late to eat I just give them a piece of my mind. Ironically my mum was speaking to me today about my oversensitivity to people's comments reminding me that they may not mean harm...

Sankofa said...

Nice post love! Like Nana, I also don't understand why our people feel so free to comment when they weren't invited to. I'm already prepared for the "obolo" comments I'm sure to receive here. Just hope I don't "accidentally" slap somebody!

Afrocentric said...

Nana and Sankofa, trust me people will ALWAYS comment. I have had the one about it being too late too.
In Ghana, it is virtually impossible to escape the "obolo" comments. I remember coming out of Aphrodisiac nightclub,one night, when a car drove past and the driver shouted "OBOLO!" at the top of his lungs!

Afrocentric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nsoromma...Child of the Heavens said...

Don't mind them! As difficult as it is seriously, don't mind them. I also learnt this the hard way, the people calling me fat wanted my breasts and those calling me blik (Haaaaaaaaaaate that term!) wanted my flawless skin. HATERS!!!!!

Friday's Afro said...

Nice post afrocentric, it's true what you've said. I've never been compared in the same way to a lighter, taller, slimmer alternative, I was basically compared to no one and STILL came second in the perfection stakes haha! Anyway, my weight issues are generally self-made but nicely buoyed up by comments such as : 'ei! what have you been eating...'etc. I always think 'sharrap you silly billy,' because although I do care about how I look, it's not because auntie maame said so, in fact I find those types of comment not only rude ( I don't care if you're my elder) but more than that extremely BORING!

enyonam said...

Thank you SO MUCH!!! People always talk about others' weight as if its any of their business. And the annoying part is that they just won't leave you alone when u even decide to lose weight. I remember when i met a friend who looked at me and asked "why is it taking so long for the weight to come off?" I told her to leave me the f*** alone. But in the end all we can do is ignore them, ain't it?
Anyways, thanks for visiting me blog. Do visit again soon.

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