When did my weight become so apparent to me?
Perhaps it was that time in nursery school when kids started calling me Jack nono. I was confused. I don’t even remember if I cried. When I got home, I told my aunt about it and she laughed. She cackled and howled as I burst into tears. I guess I had to learn to suck it up really early.
Was it that day in primary school when I wore my sports kit for the first time (a short without a wrapper skirt)? It had taken me a great deal of courage, I must say. A girl, visibly shocked, reached out from behind me and said “Whoa! I didn’t know you were this fat! You are very fat!”
It could be that time in high school when my dorm mates were taking turns trying out my skirt, watching as it irresistibly fell to their feet and perhaps thanking God they weren’t as big as me. Or that day when I was walking at a slow pace humming to a song. I had no idea that a teacher was behind me. She caught up with me and exclaimed, “Goodness Lilian! Never knew you were this fat. The holidays are approaching, make sure you exercise.”
Or maybe it was that time after form four when I was taking my siblings shopping. Most of the attendants kept thinking I was their mum. Oh, what about that time when I stayed behind with my sister after a school event? When the time was up, she escorted me up to her gate and the watchman asked her, “You want to go home with your mum?”
Campus registration, when my brother was keeping me company in the line and they kept thinking I was his mother. I had worn a dress that day. The four days I decided I’d wear the not-so-fashionable dresses and skirts I had with me and someone told me I look like someone’s mother. This made me swear off dresses and skirts for a while. (I am well aware of the fact that I’m not the most stylish person in the room though)
Those are the few times when comments to do with my weight have gotten to me. I would be lying through my teeth if I said I’ve never had issues with my weight or if I said comments never ever bother me. Sometimes I laugh them off and play it cool while aching inside.
What has changed now? Nothing. I’m still fat, but I have embraced it. I love the fact that my fatness makes me stand out. Like, if I’m in a room and I don’t say any word people will still know of my existence. I have learnt and am still learning to dress my body. What’s more, I am surprisingly grateful when people mistake me for a mother. That means I get treated with much more respect. The older I get, the less the comments bother me.
Here’s the thing: most people come from a place of innocence. They genuinely want the best for you. It’s okay, we are all growing and learning.
I hope we all find a way to navigate through our body image issues. I hope we get wise about making comments about people’s bodies. There’s a difference between good-humored teases and being outright mean. And then you can’t be a total stranger/acquaintance and think you have a right to bring up the weight issue, or how important it is to exercise. Trust me I know, and some issues are best approached by close friends and family.
One final thing, be happy with what you have while working for what you want. If you aren’t happy with your weight right now, weight loss won’t bring you the happiness you so desire. If you lose weight to please people, trust me, the same people will find other things wrong with you. And then, it should not come as a surprise to you that some people simply don’t want to lose weight. Why should it bother you that much?
Always be content and grateful with what you have in the present moment, and let people be.
It is so easy to body shame someone you don’t like, right? I am very guilty of that.
Also, I am learning that being fat doesn’t give me the leeway to make just any comments on other people’s ‘fatness’.