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As a child growing up, I had always enjoyed reading. Anything in prints has to be read and I remember one evening running under a vehicle without first trying to ascertain if the driver was in the car or not, to pick a piece of paper that I had been reading on the balcony that was blown away by breeze. Immediately I stretched my small eight year old frame underneath the car, the driver started the ignition to zoom off.

I can still hear the deafening cry of our neighbor as she called out to the driver who happened to be her husband from the kitchen window, to stop. I still shudder when I think of that experience. As an avid reader, one of my favorite sections in the newspaper was the job ads and obituary sections which I always read last after reading all other uninteresting stuffs about politics and religion and looking up pictures of the cover girls whose likes and dislikes were always honesty and lies.

What intrigued me in the vacancy section was another mini section in there with adverts that usually reads like this: ‘Man, 45, an accountant with a good job from the South-East looking for a tall and slim lady between the ages of 18-22 to settle down with. She must be beautiful, fluent in English and Igbo language and a good cook’. As a teenager reading this advert, am always tempted to call the contact number and meet with the advertiser but I never summoned courage. Then as I grew older, I began to see the different yardstick used to judge the male from the female and realized the danger of such adverts. Female Children and teenagers are exposed to lies that say they only need to be beautiful and good cooks and the ultimate goal is to ‘land’ a man.

This negative public perception and widespread gospel proved to be a barrier as it was continuously reinforced to the girl child that she cannot aspire to be anything more in life outside preparing herself for a man as she was not good enough to be in the sciences or sign up for technical courses. I strive continuously in educating young women on the importance of education, believing in themselves and excelling in their chosen career.

While the male folks still try to suppress our usefulness in the society and downplay our mental capabilities, online fora and media such as Pulse Wire, etc, creates a global platform for me to teach more of these young women to believe in their selves and want more out of life outside cooking and been beautiful. In Pulse Wire, I join the interactions that go on by women all over the world as they share their stories and encourage their fellow women: sisters, friends, daughters, mothers and wives on how they overcame these negative social expectations and became free. Freedom last!

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.


Your vacancy excerpt made me laugh but it is the grim truth. Women are made to feel that they must conform to a particular shape, size and beauty standard in order to be "wanted." I also think you should be looking at women trafficking. Most of the young ladies who feel they meet up with the criteria to be 'wanted' see their bodies as a means of getting what they want! I once prosecuted a man in the Nigerian court for women trafficking and apart from willingness to do the act of prostitution for those who arent compelled, having a great body and some of your vacancy excerpt was his criteria for recruiting girls!

It usually makes me laugh also when i read the needed requirements but as i grew older, i began to see the impact of this on young girls and women.

I have a cousin who is 22 years old and she never stops complaining of her body size and how her boyfriend (Who is a biggy himself funny enough) keeps nagging her to diet and shed some weight. Am all into looking trim and healthy but when one's body structure becomes a gauge/standard used to access her capability i react. Thanks for reading.. I appreciate.

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Dear Nezed

In India, every single mainstream newspaper has two or more pages devoted to matrimonial ads every week.Those read just like your adverts, except that the wanted list here also include 'fair skinned'. This,in a country that is known as a country of brown/dark skinned people. But, mention the underlying racism in our society and these newspapers will be the first to counter-argue that.

So, understand and empathize with you completely. Fight on!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Lol Stella... I never thought of it as 'Matrimonial ads'. At times these requirements is also for the purpose of lover/sugar mummy/or sex mates... Reducing young women to objects of ridicule and door mats. I shall continue to speak! Thanks...

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Being 1.5 metres tall, and perceiving myself as a short and unattractive person compared to the tall, slim and elegant pictures of models I saw on t.v I assumed that was the reason guys did not want to date me when I was a teenager. Only later did I discover that they found my intellect and the way I carried myself intimidating. So we must never look down upon ourselves based on how we think other people perceive us because sometimes our minds tell us things that are not true and the images we see in the media are superficial. These sterotypical adverts are portraying pictures, images with no character, or story or history to them. They have nothing against the wealth of experiences and depth of character that lie in each one of us who don't fit the picture perfect description. Thank you for highlighting this important factor Nezed.

Sure, this is a subtle message that is been passed across everyday to millions of young girls... From car adverts to inner wears etc, the message is same: Skinny, sexy and dumb. We need to teach these women to be strong, excel and achieve in their career and see the world! Thanks for reading...

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Nezed I really, really enjoyed your article. Just last night I was complaining to my husband about an advert for men's shirts running on TV now. There is not a single image of a man in the advert - just a couple of slim girls dressed in men's shirts performing some provocative dances. I'm so angry with that advert. I agree, girls should be taught that there is more to them than their looks. Well done girl for such a brilliant article.

Imagine? Its overwhelming the messages been passed and brought to the attention of youngsters... Would be great to see female doctors dressed up in their overall advertising male lingerie... that is a more positive message! thank you...

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Hey Nazed, Aahahah these ads can entice women to think of men so highly that they forget they are as smart as the men.

The language of love is complicated,however,I believe when young girls are taught from the beginning to love themselves as they are and strive to be the best be it in education,business etc.The world would moving in the right direction.It was a masterpiece of laughter for me compared to what I witness and hear on radio about this ads.Thanks sister

Lucia Buyanza -Clinical Instructor

Hello Nezed

I read your piece and thought how true it is that woman are still so depicted as sexual objects in a patriarchal society...I stand in solidarity with you as we fight against all that oppresses us and every day in every way we find new ways to connect and dismantle the myth that women can't...

Thank you for sharing



Thank you for sharing your story about your love of reading and of the barriers to girls believing in the power of their minds. How wonderful it would be if all children grew up knowing they were worthwhile and important members of society regardless of their physical characteristics. Keep educating girls and keep telling your story!