I struggled with the words to this particular piece more than I usually do when I write a think-piece but only because what do you say to a generation of women convinced that men’s oblivious opinions about their bodies are fact, religion, even a code to live by. Body positivity, or on the extreme body shaming, are as a result of society’s attempt to define what’s beautiful and what’s just not; there are no in-betweens. The same society coined the saying, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ so I can’t speak for its ‘mental capacity and sanity’. How do you tell all women they’re beautiful when we are almost always classified as a prejudicial extreme? A large majority of us do not love our physical image because society told us to look like Audrey Hepburn or Madonna or Gigi Hadid or [insert celebrity white girl of average height and even less weight]. Let’s take a simple poll, ladies. How many of us, at a younger age, dismissed certain career dreams because puberty hadn’t really come through for us or we hadn’t really lost the weight for the part? We live in a world where you only see ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ people on the street or bizarre shows about extremely obese people struggling with weight. So you can understand why I didn’t go tooting my horn right after this piece’s photo shoot. Then a week later, I read this amazing piece by a friend [https://myloveintended.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/scared-to-eat/] and I had to write this. Reading her experiences which mirrored my own, I suddenly felt the real reason I wanted to write this post come back to me, lucid and not easily ignored.
How about a little backstory. I’m what they call a big girl; I’ve always been on the heavier side; even during my childhood. I often gained famed nicknames such as Miss fatty fatty and kanono. To them, it was playful but to me it just hurt. I was born this way. I’ve always been fat and in my youth you didn’t see many heavy people on TV unless they were the clown of the show. Even nail polish and toothpaste ads used size zero models. So from a young age, society steered me towards losing the weight. I heard things like, “You have a pretty face but that….” or “You know if you lost the weight you can wear this or look like me” It was depressing, it still is. In my adolescence, it occurred to me that some girls are sexy and others were smart. I took the crown in the latter, the rest could fight over who’s sexy. But that is not true. It was just a way to avoid conforming to a stereotype that I did not fit into. Showing off my body was a problem. Oversized jeans and sweaters became my thing. However adulthood began to show me there is more to life than looking like what they tell you is beautiful. With that, I began to shed my insecurities one by one; even had the stuff to model for a friend. DIY By Moe It wasn’t simple to love myself and all that came with it but eventually it pays off.
Let’s start small, my friends. What is this body shaming? Body Shaming, according to various internet sources, is simply the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size. Knowing that, let’s take another poll. Who has experienced said body shaming? In this day and age, I’m confident the results show staggering numbers in favor of body shamed females owing to society’s changing standards. If you’ve been asleep or highly antisocial over the last few decades, let me so graciously fill you in. There was a time, men preferred us tiny, size zero with minimal fat and absolutely none hanging out of your clothes. Then it was maybe they should be tiny still but with some fat in the bosom area; maybe a B-cap or a C-cap in the extreme, the rest is fat. Then the Age of Thick dawned upon us, where men weren’t so bothered by the fat as long as it was concentrated in the buttock and bosom area and jiggled to the extent of their satisfaction. The rest was fat. As you can see ‘fat’ is considered a horrific characteristic; Men do not like it so women strive not to be it. In my opinion, body shaming is just another incarnation of misogyny. What really gets me is that you don’t hear these things from a man cause a man knows what he wants and if it’s not you or your size, he and his misogyny move on to the next one; he doesn’t necessarily go around telling women they don’t fit his description of beautiful unless he’s a real misogynist. What gets to me the most is that you’ll hear them from other women in the cruelest ways. Your girlfriend will suggest things like “stuff your bra, your bosom area is looking too small” “You need butt implants or the squat challenge.” “I saw this diet [insert celebrity name] is trying and I think it will work for you” “Try this, it will make your skin lighter.” We all have that friend or group of friends that feel like your body size or type or complexion does not match the group [cause apparently we all need to be in that clique where all the girls are light, slim with big booties] that keep trying to get you to change. Those are not your friends, but I am!
Fat vs. Skinny
One societally fat girl to another, I need you to understand that I am not condoning an unhealthy lifestyle but body positivity. Your weight loss journey will be miserable if you don’t love yourself first cause at that point you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for this ‘society’ that has imposed age-old restrictions on you; as a woman, more importantly, a fat woman. I hated that word ‘Fat’ and the Swahili translation for it ‘nono’ even more. I think it stems from the childhood nickname ‘Kanono’ which still casts a shadow on my life now especially when it’s part of a rejected man’s cat call. It caused me to be painfully aware of my weight at all times, especially in the presence of lighter weighted people. They don’t have to actively make you aware that you are the biggest person in the room, you’ll feel it when your slimmest friend, XX complains about ‘her oversized pot belly’ while only having a bunch of grapes for lunch. You, on the other hand, are genuinely hungry, ravenously at that and that combo cheese burger meal you’re eating won’t even satisfy the hunger, you still want a whole pizza. Stuff like that makes you want to start your diet with the next meal even though you’re unprepared to lose weight and you thought you looked fine when you looked in the mirror this morning. So naturally, you cheat on your diet heftily, worse than most of these men do on their wives. Because the diet reminds you of why you started, which in itself is a very depressing reason [To look like XX]. You find yourself looking for new avenues, so you try the gym but you quit after a few weeks or days because the motivation to lose weight does not come from within you. Then you decide to go with easier routes like those slim teas and waist trainers advertised by women who frankly would be better-suited advertising plastic surgery. You soon find out ‘Naturally Slimming Teas’ are just overpriced over-the-counter laxatives that let you eat whatever you want but give you hell when food is on its way out. [Reasons why weight loss teas are bad for you] And that waist training isn’t good for you seeing as you’ll look amazing but you will have acid reflux, skin irritation, problems breathing, bruising and a ton of other stuff you probably would rather live fat without. [Dangers of Waist Training] [You’re mad they don’t put this stuff on the package, me too!]
On the flip side, we have the ‘skinny girl’. A societally fat girl will always assume that the body shaming prejudice is only against her. But with the Age of Thick Booties and Tiny waists, this is not the case. Your adorably slim friend is also worried that her back side does not look like yours; she doesn’t want your stomach area though. That girl gets called a stick, a lollipop behind her back, but like we all do; she pretends not to hear it. She is overloading on food that probably leaves her uncomfortably full, with crazily unnecessary levels of cholesterol and the looming risk of heart disease. [Being Skinny is no Guarantee of a Healthy Heart] She hears things like “have a banana, some potatoes etc. They go straight to your butt or boobs.” “That would look better if you got some implants to make you look bigger” Sitting there, you realised like I did, there are no in-betweens; you either look like Kylie Jenner or Taylor Swift. And even though both women are beautiful, one is considered more beautiful than the other because she attracts more male attention. So even slim girls are their own kind of ‘fat’ in the eyes of society.
So girls, what have we learnt? We learnt we only hate our bodies because other people hate our bodies. In this society, ugly turns to hot and right back to ugly in a matter of days or weeks. So why should we base our self-esteem and the makings of our attitude on an ever fluctuating standard of beauty? Do we not live in an era when a woman’s worth is measured by parameters that do not necessarily relate to her ability to make men happy or aroused? You are not a snack to be baked to perfection and eaten, or an erotic novel to be written perfectly and passed around for amusement. Neither are you a piece of art to be stared at for pleasure? You are a human being; much like every man who ever belittled you based on your physical appearance. You have dreams, goals, and careers that are not correlated with your appearance or men’s opinions about you, don’t you?
So why don’t we just love ourselves either way! Because Sister, you’ll find that the social prejudice does not end. When you attain the ‘perfect body’, they’ll want you to have perfect hair (Do not even get me started on the afro/weave shaming; I never know which one they’re shaming). Then to dress perfectly for them, not too scanty, not too conservative. Then they need you to learn how to make up your face, cover the blemishes and the acne and make your eyelids smoky. Then you need the perfect man to marry you all while not being too forthright when trying to get him to marry you. Then you must raise the perfect children because messed up kids apparently have messed up mothers. Then you must keep off aging to a level that keeps your husband faithful even though men cheat anyway. Issa Rat Race!! Men are greedy creatures, they want it all. They will change the standard on you while you go through that butt implant surgery and make overbites the new thing. You cannot win with society’s standards, you can only satisfy yourself by loving your body before you begin to modify it. Love yourself; love another fat girl instead of body shaming her behind her back and most importantly, be Enlightened, Be Empowered Be EmmBoldened!!!
With love and tremendous body positivity vibes,
Check out the tutorial for the kimono I was modelling DIY chiffon Kimono in 30 min or less by DiyByMoe