creatively sharing inspired thought one word at a time
I really do not like revisiting issues but sometimes you can’t help but revisit an old rant. Two issues that surfaced in the social media recently have forced me to return to a pet rant of mine. I breezed past the post (on a popular Nigerian blog) on the ‘Lagos Socialite’ (what the heck is that, by the way?) who was asking ladies to lose their ‘pot bellies’ to impress potential suitors but was sucked in by the unusually large number of comments. I decided to check out the comments as I felt reading the post itself would be akin to verifying a vain fellow. After reading the over 100 comments therein, I decided against my better judgement to read the post itself as I still had some doubt that a supposed ‘socialite’ could be that sexist and misogynistic in his views and comments. He sure was and my fears were confirmed. Same day, I saw Wana’s Shrink video thrice and feel real genuine pain at the struggles that women have to deal with on a daily basis as it concerns body image.
These two posts in the last few weeks have gotten me revisiting the whole issue of the painful (almost devilish) pressure that women are put under on account of their body image and the sexist comment (as typified by our ‘Lagos Socialite’) that seem to have become acceptable in our society. We need to get one thing out of the way, while the mode of acceptance for a specific body image is less subtle in the Nigerian society, it is a universal problem (some tweets @EverydaySexism is proof). At Arizona State University, Prof. Fahs, a professor of women and gender studies, has been offering her female students extra credit if they stop shaving their armpits for 10 weeks and write a journal about the experience. Male students, meanwhile, can earn extra credit, too, if they indulge in what magazines call “under-arm manscaping”. According to Fahs, this is to help students “think critically about societal norms and gender roles”. The societal norms that define how a woman should look and how certain benefits (like a suitor in the Nigerian case) accrue to her solely because she has a washboard belly, gap between her thighs and no stretch mark (visible or invisible) are yielding incredibly anxious women whose anxiety is being heightened by the ubiquity of social media and sadly seems like it will get worse as such media become more evasive in the coming days. While the sort of data found in the UK (new research coinciding with Body Confidence Week found that almost 10 million women in the UK “feel depressed” because of the way they look and 36% avoid exercise because of insecurity about their looks.) may be absent in Nigeria, a stroll through IG land and comments on popular blogs are enough to confirm parity in the state of insecurity and deep seated anxiety that envelopes body image for most females.
The myth that every woman whose without abs as flat as a washboard and a bust any bigger than a C cup is lazy, unhealthy and unworthy of a good man is as sexist a view as views can be. In addition, such views no matter how subtle must not only be repelled but shot down as fast as they are propagated. More painful is when such views are propagated by women themselves. It is a self-defeating cycle when women who have had their body image battered in one area of their anatomy, turn their guns on fellow females who do not fit the cynically approved body image in another area and in the end both remain defeated while fashion conglomerates and misogynistic men remain winning. You know that it is a sad case when you see a popular OAP in Lagos who had chosen to wear a cropped top to several parties that were publicized on social media (a choice that is her inalienable right as long as she appeared decent) but felt the need to conform to a societal imposed image by sucking in her belly on all different occasions where her picture was taken. The painful part was that the said OAP did not appear pregnant, did not have a bulge unexpected of a lady of her size and stature, so you begin to wonder why inconvenience yourself so much for a viewing public that you owed nothing? Those she sought to impress with an artificial washboard abs went in hard and were unrelenting in their comments.
This obsession with a perfect body (that does not exist) needs to be revisited. A healthy body and life is to be desired and vigorously pursued but that does not mean an absence of cellulite nor instant death for all DD cup busty ladies. Enough of these magic potions that supposedly crash weight in weeks while also crashing our confidence in ourselves and end up making us (let me feel like a woman for once) feel less sexy, less attractive and envious of our fellow women.
It sounds simple and obvious but the following are worth repeating: A healthy body and a size zero are not synonymous. A plus sized body and sexiness are not antonyms. A potential partner who does not appreciate you just the way you are, will not appreciate you the way you want to become.
The lie that when unmarried sisters look in the mirror while nude that they see the sole reason why Mr. Right has not pitched or that the moment when a sister looks in the mirror while still in her birth suit should be the low point of her day. If what you see in the mirror is the reason why Mr. Right has not pitched, then you are better off without him.