As a child growing up in Nigeria, I was hurled insults repeatedly for my slim frame. I was steadily called ‘skinigbeku’ which translates directly to ‘thin to the point of death’ and ‘toothpick’ which is self-explanatory. I remember wanting to gain weight so badly and be a lot curvier like some of the girls I knew. When I moved abroad, it was a completely different story, with the exception of my family who still told me to eat a sandwich and took me to the doctor to ensure I wasn’t anorexic; It seemed as though ‘thin was in’ in Europe. Finally, I had found my place.
The older I got however, my body began to change… I remember praying for a butt because Kim Kardashian was the new sensation and all of a sudden, people seemed to be warming up to the idea of curves. So, I wanted curves. I started doing squats, running up my 15 flights of stairs every morning and strangely enough, I started to build muscle in all the right areas.
Life and ‘Adulting’ got the best of me so I just generally quit exercising. I was either working, taking lunch at my desk or sleeping and as it turns out, with age, your body doesn’t burn fat as quickly anymore. From a size 8, I had suddenly gone up to a size 12 and it wasn’t until my clothes weren’t fitting anymore did I realise that my body as I knew it, had gone on a long term holiday. I would have to get used to the new one.
There was nothing I didn’t try; from wiring my teeth to keto dieting. Nothing seemed to work!
Eventually, I opted for a healthier lifestyle which comprised of a better diet, daily exercise by walking my dogs in the evenings after work and just loving the body I was in. The latter unfortunately took more work than I thought it would. I had always teased my overweight friends about worrying too much about their appearance, scolding them when we went out and they seemed to not be as confident. It hit me that I didn’t understand their plights back then. I had only gained a little bit of weight in comparison to them and that made me feel as though my world was coming to an end. How much more, if I were actually overweight/obese.
Sometimes, I feel that God allows certain challenges to come your way to humble you. This definitely did that for me.
Don’t shame people’s bodies or tell them how much weight they’re gaining. Believe me, they see it, feel it and are probably very sensitive about it. Instead, shower them with your love and support. If they require your opinion on the subject, they’ll ask for it.
I’m currently happy in my size 12 body and have stopped making bold statements such as: “Why am I so fat? or I look like a balloon with a face drawn on’. Instead, every time I look in the mirror I say to myself, “Girl, You’re popping!”