Thursday, 26 May 2016

Beautiful but she/he's short and fat. Ever heard that phrase before? Read more

A story is told of someone who eavesdropped on a conversation between two people in a bank queue. A young man said about a potential love interest, “she’s okay, but short and fat.” He scrunched up his face. Enraged, the eavesdropper said, “May I lend you my mirror?”

Ever been in that position before? How did it feel to hear someone describe another as ‘fine but short or fat or skinny? Or something along those lines?

The Oxford dictionary describes beauty as:
a) A combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight
b) A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.
But there now seems to be a whole new definition of beauty. I have heard people describe beauty in these words: ‘a tall, slim and fair girl’ or a ‘tall, dark and handsome man.’ I’m shaking my head at these stereotypes, and thinking of that conversation at the ATM queue: “she’s beautiful, but…” And if I understand English language, whatever comes after the ‘but’ is the game-changer.
My 7 month-old daughter is really cute and chubby. At least, I and her dad think so. And since her birth I have been lectured by super moms who have all the answers. They have offered unsolicited advice because they have all the 34 secrets to being a great mom and raising great, flawless children. One of the lectures I have had to deal with is in the ‘How To Diet Your 7 month-old’ program. They think she’s getting too fat, and that I ought to watch it.
And this has made me curious. If I am supposed to start helping my daughter watch her height or weight, what would I do when she is five or ten or even in her teens. Should I start making her feel imperfect so early? I have learned a lot about obesity and its effects on children. But I also know that my daughter doesn’t exhibit any of these symptoms. She is active, effective and is developing faster than her age. What we are having to endure is a mindset that people have picked up from the media. Why are we encouraging the spread of these fallacies? Why have we chosen to sow the seeds of insecurity in the hearts of little children?
And who sets the standards for beauty? Western media? African fashion bloggers? Who made them the beauty legislature? Who says only slim is beautiful? And why do we have to buy into the rhetoric that demonizes chubbiness? Obesity is, without doubt, a health issue, but I’m also aware that not everyone has the bone structure of a size 6 or 8, and that a person’s body frame is a predetermining factor. We don’t have to look to plastic surgery freaks to define what beauty is.
Have you ever seen a very beautiful lady dating one scar-faced man and said, “is this sister alright? How can she be with this guy?” But deep inside we know that there is more to their love story than meets the eye. He’s probably affectionate and smart. But then again, he might be an agbero. And the beautiful girl might be dealing with low self-esteem. Why else has she settled for less than she’s worth?
Most people want to change something about the way they look. They want their neighbour’s thigh-gap, and the neighbor wants their gap-tooth or bright eyes. People with curly hair will do anything to straighten it, and people with straight-hair will do anything to curl it.
As we say in Naija speak, want want no get; get get no want.
Some dark-complexioned people are busy bleaching their skin white because they heard a fallacy. Some are subjecting themselves to white and blue tea just to lose weight because somebody somewhere told them that fat is ugly.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in living and eating healthy, but I’m adverse to the culture of shaming people who don’t resemble magazine models. You have to learn to love yourself, before you can expect the love of another. Else smart bad boys will notice your insecurities, and take advantage. Need I say more?
Back to my daughter, I’ve stopped listening to the diet-experts, because I know that low self-esteem cause depression and induce suicidal tendencies. When she’s older I’ll tell her she’s beautiful, no matter what they say. I’ll teach her to avoid people who can’t love her as God made her. Because life’s too short to go about living your life for people who don’t matter.

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