Are You Happy With Your Size? This Is How Nigerian Women Feel About Being Fat

What is to be done when all starts to head south? When chubby becomes fat and tummies take on additional folds, many women feel it is time to do something about their weight.

The question is: do you chop, diet or let it be?

We live in a cruel world. New-born babies are expected to be chubby, at least in the African context. A fat baby is testament of good feeding by its mother, although not so much so in the UK. ‘Have you been feeding the baby some of your African food?’ the dull looking Health visitor asks when you proudly show her your ‘orobo’ baby. When a baby girl becomes a chubby teenager she is considered to be cute and adorable.

By the time the teenager becomes a young woman she is expected to miraculously lose her teenage fat so that she can bag a husband and make her parents proud – never mind that her husband may be rotund or have a beer belly, several chins and no neck! After this woman has produced the required number of offspring- this time to make her husband proud- people, including her husband, start to comment that she has gained a lot of weight or has become very flabby or fat.

One of my family friends from Lagos is in a dilemma at the moment. She has four kids and used to fit into size 10 clothes. She now wears 16/18. Personally, I think she looks yummy and voluptuous. Lately, she has been ‘stressing’ about her size saying she has to do something about her bulges but it was only recently that she confessed that her hubby had been making snide remarks about her weight and was always eyeing svelte -looking damsels. I won’t even waste space here sharing what I think of her husband.

What my friend fails to realize is that she is still a very attractive woman. She has naturally long hair, an acne-free face and baby-smooth skin, she is tall and graceful and wears her voluptuousness like an expensive robe. I have told her several times how good she looks partly because it is true and partly to ensure that I don’t fall out with her. I want to remain eligible to receive the lovely Ankara outfits she sends me anytime a family member travels to the UK…. What?! Don’t judge me.  Who doesn’t like free stuff?

So what options does a woman have? The first is expensive, dangerous and frankly usually not worth the trouble: Cosmetic surgery. I am not going to pretend I understand the intricate details of the different procedures that can be carried out but I do know that they range from face lifts, breast enlargements, bum boosts and tummy tucks. You have to have a lot of money to embark on any of these procedures. Besides, I think girdles, waist-trainers  and ‘coste’ bras can do wonders if worn properly.

It also carries the risk of serious medical complications if it goes wrong. It is hard to argue against cosmetic surgery, though, when some women have actually succeeded in ‘turning back time’ like American musicians Cher and Madonna who still have bodies like teenagers even though they are past retirement age. We also have our own home-grown ‘indestructible’ celebrities in Nigeria without mentioning names, don’t we?

The second option would be to go on a diet and stick to it. It is not about missing breakfast and lunch and then bingeing out in the evening on enough pounded yam to feed five starving refugee children. Neither is it about cutting out biscuits and sweets and then filling up on groundnuts, cashew nuts, gala and fried snacks.

Diets are good for weight loss but you need self-discipline. I once went on a diet and lost a lot of weight but it was no easy feat. It was very hard as I had to avoid lots of rice, yam, pizzas, cakes, biscuits, pies and fizzy drinks. I was happy very with my new weight but my hubby was a bit disappointed when my chest-size reduced considerably. I wanted to be healthier and wear whatever I wanted, including my younger sister’s clothes. I achieved both.

The third option is to let it be. Leave the fat, leave the flab and just get on with life. Why can’t a woman be happy with rolling hips, a bum with mounds that can accommodate several upright bottles of Coca cola or breasts that enter a room before its owner does?  While one might argue that life is too short to waste time worrying about the size of one’s backside, one should also remember that life could indeed be too short if one person weighs the same as two or three adults combined.

I think the most important thing is being comfortable in one’s own skin. My family friend wants to have a tummy-tuck to reclaim her tummy from the ravages of four very heavy male-child pregnancies, which is understandable. Her tummy looks so big you would think she is expecting her fifth baby. A tummy tuck might not be the answer as I fear she might also be suffering with fibroids, like millions of other black women all over the world.

Ladies need to learn to take care of themselves. If you choose to lose weight, do it because you want to. As long as you are healthy and active, you can be happy being a larger woman. Some women are naturally big-boned and will never become size 6. However, let’s not forget that being overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems later in life and shorten life expectancy.

Finally, men should lay off pressuring women to be a certain shape and look at each woman’s inner beauty. We love our men all the same whether pot-bellied, bald, barrel-chested, thin-chested, hairless, hairy, bow legged, k-legged, bracket- legged, man-boobed, high bummed, moustached, buck –toothed, whatever.

 

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