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 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

My Body…Your Problem

Me at almost 75kg.Image: Tunde Raphael. So recently, I put on a lot of weight; or better put, I have become quite fat! I know this because most of my clothes are so small now that I have to get a new wardrobe. When I say most, I mean my pants (trousers; get your mind out of the gutter), skirts and certain dresses. I have always bought bigger clothes because I don’t like clingy clothes and I am the type of girl who would wear something I like for years and years until it becomes threadbare and begs to be thrown away. When I am slim, and by slim I mean my lowest weight of 62kg, my clothes are like baggy dresses (which I am happy with) and when I am at my full weight of 70kg, they are a bit snug but not so tight that all my curves (real and imagined) are out there for all to see…well, until recently; I weigh 72kg now.  My new weight is centered around my derriere (*blushing to my roots) and thighs. Though I am never one who is bothered (much) by my weight, I am ecstatic about my new body! Growing up, I used to be straight as a ruler. I have always wanted to be curvy, hoping that one day I would wake up with Toolz’s body. My best friend is this curvy mama and I dare say that is the only point on which I am jealous of her. Anyway, when I put on this weight, the first thing I noticed was that I had problems getting my pants (trousers again, focus!) over my derriere to my waist. After more than 25 years, God finally gave me the body I wanted! I am curvy baby! I am now a budding pear! *Dancing the Konga! For the past few weeks, I have been enjoying how my new curves fit into my clothes, though I need new stuff; emphasis on ‘need’! What I haven’t been enjoying are the stares! Though I am a confident woman, I am not comfortable with men staring at me. Okay, I will stop lying; I HATE MEN STARING AT ME! It gets me annoyed when men stare, especially when I can see the lascivious or leering looks in their eyes. I guess people will stare anyway so when I see anyone staring, I put on my mean mug which, 99% of the time, gets the man to look away. I may be all fire inside but with my mean mug, I become the evil ice queen…and I have realized that no one wants to mess with her! Buhahaha! Anyway, worse than the ‘starers’ are the people who constantly feel the need to tell me that I am fat. I get this EVERYDAY! Some people are subtle and would just go, ‘Ramat, you have put on weight. Your trip home must have been very good’ to which I would reply that I had gone back to my original weight. Others would see me from afar and shout, ‘OH MY GOD! RAMAT, YOU ARE SO FAT!’ In my head I go, ‘AND YOU ARE SO DUMB!’ but outwardly, I would smile and tell them, ‘Yes, I am. And I am happy with MY body.’ They have this reaction because they have only seen a slim me; again, I must say that I am big boned and can never be Dija slim. Since I came to Yola, my weight always hovered between 62 and 65kg. So the extra 10kg is freaking them out. The people I mentioned above are not the ones this article is for. There is a special class that walks up to me and says, ‘Ramat, you are too fat! You BETTER start doing some exercise and stop eating TOO MUCH food.’ When I hear something like that, my ratchet side begs me to take off my earrings and pull up my sleeves. I am no fighter but I have been tempted so many times that my mind needs anger management! I BETTER do exercise?! I MUST STOP EATING too much food?! I am like ‘Nigga, is you cra’y?! You done lost your mind?! Smoked some cheap weed?!’ I usually smile and tell them that their opinion about my body is of no importance to me. Somehow, that riles them up and they start huffing and puffing. Imagine the nerve!  I got into it one day with a guy who was angry that I told him I love MY body the way it is. He went ham! ‘Ramat, this is not good oh. You are finer when you are slimmer. You BETTER go and lose that weight…and fast! In fact, I will come to your house so that we can start jogging! Ha ahn! You are too fat now!’ Before I proceed, I want to explain my relationship with this guy. He is a colleague whom I just say ‘Hello, Hi’ to. We are not friends, we don’t work in the same unit, he knows nothing about me and vice versa. So, to continue, I smiled and said, ‘Hmmm….first, I love MY body the way it is. Second, MY weight is in no way YOUR concern and finally, I may be finer when I am slim but you are wiser when you are quiet. Maybe you should shut up more.’ I smiled and batted my eyes. The guy was quiet for some seconds…and then he walked away. Only my close friends would have known that I was red hot mad! How dare he?!  It reminded me of a time when a corps member also assigned to my place of primary assignment had a problem with my eyebrows. I always say that my eyebrows are perfect and I would never shave/shape them. This girl wanted me to shape them. I said no. She pressed. I said no again. She kept pressing for weeks. I remained adamant. One day, we were in a tricycle and she was seating directly opposite me. When I couldn’t stand the scrutiny anymore, I asked

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