My best features… I love photography, film and video, the whole works- that's why I work in the profession (broadcasting that is). I love fashion, the feel of trying on new clothes, wearing makeup and generally looking good but I have for several years settled for less, I settled for just loving shoes instead because I don’t like the stares I get from store attendants while searching out a dress in my size. Having dealt with self esteem from adolescence, I have grown into confidence, I am still learning to be perfectly confident in my own skin. My best feature is my face, the fat doesn't show, even the facial hairs aren't so bothering because it’s my best feature. I also love my finger nails, they are beautiful enough that I don’t need artificials to get by. In all of this I am blessed to have the body I have. Despite the love for photography, I avoid taking pictures especially when it’s beyond a close up or medium shot all as a result of self-censoring and self-restriction. I know that it took a combination of poor choices/habits; genes and some medical condition to put me here and I am on a daily journey to be better, but in the meantime I thrive to be as confident and loving of myself as possible. In Nigeria it’s almost as if saying "You're getting fat" has become a part of greeting... Only recently, a cousin who hasn't seen me in a while or knows what’s up with my life runs into me and without even a breath of hello, places her hand over my stomach (the stomach I try so hard to conceal under compression garments) and says...." you're just getting fat"… I didn’t hide my anger and frustration so I walked away not wanting to feed the ignorance of the remark. Body shaming doesn’t just happen when words are spoken, even the awkward stares, glances and unsolicited comments have been a major part of my adult life and I had to grow a tough skin. I work in the media so I know there is a misrepresentation or perception of what beauty is and should be. I don’t fight it; I only try to define beauty from my purview. I share my affirmations of beauty and confidence with young girls, telling my lessons learnt so they can begin confidence building early. I have seen the sparkle in the eyes of some of these girls when I encourage them to say out loud that they are beautiful despite skin pigmentation, lips, curves and finger tips. In my challenge being big, I realize family is the one that hurt you the most. They often feel the need to point out how big you are or how big you are getting not minding or not even knowing the pains they cause. For perpetrators of stereotypes like; ‘slim is beautiful, fat is lazy’ I’d say, get off the myopic mind set and find out the ‘what and why’. You may have genuine concern but your delivery can do more harm if not properly considered. For you enduring the daily journey to healthy living, better health, better balanced hormones and all the stresses of body shaming, look within and build confidence. It’s the variety that makes life interesting. Seek medical help (if needed) and most importantly be your own motivation to get better (the desired body weight or health goal), when you do it for you, it is easily sustainable but when done for someone it can be lost when circumstances change.
This story was submitted in response to Body Beautiful.