This piece actually applies to ALL girls. You, you, you, and you. Oh, I didn’t forget you too!

I know how you feel looking in the mirror, poking the little hairs on your tummy, the weird lumps of fat on your thighs, the stretchmarks on your hips. You look at yourself and you think, “This isn’t what I am supposed to be.” You’re not quite sure what you are supposed to be, exactly, but you have a vague idea of something between a 50 Cent video vixen and one of the Victoria Secret Angels. You should be a thing with clean, smooth, gently curved lines and hairless, soft surfaces. You should be a thing that responds well to touch and opens itself up to criticism. You should be a thing that is at once unattainable and perfectly available for the world to poke and prod with its never-closing eyes. But most of all, you should be a thing.

You know this because you’ve been told it all your life. You have heard other girls callously mock your body in the hostel. You have understood the vague references by family members to lose weight or to dress better or to go out and make more friends. You have seen the people you loved refuse to love you back in the same way because you would never, ever be good enough for their fleeting approval. You have been told that there is a price of admission in life, and that price is being pleasing to everyone but yourself. For as long as you can remember, your body has been a conduit for legislation and furrowed brows and serious talks about what is happening to our generation. Your sexuality has been a means of addressing what kind of person you are fundamentally, of the exact amount of respect you deserve to receive in life. You have not been fully there, because you weren’t allowed to be.

I know how hard it is to feel good about yourself, and to do it in a way that isn’t afraid to make itself known. I know what it feels like to roll that ball all the way up the hill to the moment where you feel like you can finally say “I am awesome and beautiful,” only to be told that you are conceited and undesirable for doing so. You feel as though confidence in yourself is a forbidden commodity that you must squirrel away in the back of your closet and enjoy only in moments of absolute privacy — not unlike the shameful snack foods that you are constantly told will make you fat and ugly. You have learned to take the moments of precious self-esteem as they come, but to never make it seem as though you live in a constant state of fulfilment, lest you be harshly reminded of your place.

You are jealous of men. You are jealous of them in a way they will never be able to understand because they will never realize that their lives are so very valuable, so meaningful that they are entitled to be individuals. You often look at the ease with which they move around society, in and out of groups and cities and streets which terrify you to even pass by, and you grow almost hateful in your jealousy. The world seems to have been given to them, and they don’t even see what a precious gift it is to be able to live in it without apology. You wish that men, for once in their lives, could be judged as a whole by the actions of one, or deemed just slightly less human because they had sex with just one too many people. You wish this and then feel ridiculous, because you know that it will not happen. You know that you will be labelled as crazy or resentful for even pointing it out.

You have known the sting of having every ounce of your self-worth, every source of your opinions or experiences in life; being inextricably tied to your relationship with a man. Your thoughts only defined in the context of “daddy issues” or “heartbroken” or “a woman scorned.” You wish that you could tell people that your professional life has nothing to do with your male boss noticing your tight blazer, or your coworker not wanting to fuck you when you wore that pale blouse. You wish that you didn’t have to explain to people your relationship status in the same breath that you detailed your personal achievements, your goals for the future, and your views as a human being. You wish that you could just be a person, and not one half constantly looking to be made whole.

I know what it feels like to want to be the perfect woman, to see that there are so many directions to go in and only two feet to walk with — if you even knew how to stay on the tightrope that exists between “fucking slut” and “frigid bitch.” I know that you have grown to hate that woman in some ways, to be consumed with jealousy you don’t know how to channel because another woman has been deemed more human for fitting into an archetype you can never hope to fit yourself. And I know that the worst part is that you don’t even want to be this woman, and you never have, you just wish that you could convince the world you are okay the way you are.

Responses

  1. Ramatu
    First off, you are a wonderfully brilliant writer. The end of this piece broke me because it is a sentence that neatly sums up the struggles we have to face everyday. But better than that, you described me and so many other women across the globe. It is shameful that we have to face things like these constantly to fit in, be deemed attractive or be accepted.

    For years, I was jealous of men and then I told myself to shuck it and accept me for me. I am a big, bold, brainy, beautiful and blessed black woman and I don’t need to fit into defined parameters; unless I want to.

    Is it a happy road? 90% of the time….no! But I am learning to be better with each new day that meets the night. And who knew solitude rocks right? Lol.

    Thank you for writing this Lipglossmania. I love you for this.

    2+
  2. Imaobong
    Nigerian girl problems?
    More like worldwide, sister!
    Thank you so much for this.
    And I particularly like the way you ended it — not trying to convince anyone why they’re being too hard on themselves, not trying to offer some solution (‘cos heck, we already know these things) and not mincing any of your words.
    It was beautiful.
    0
  3. Larz
    Your last sentence is th problem. You don’t have to convince the world or anyone that you r ok the way u r. Just be you. I know it is easier said than done on some days but we just gotta try your best
    2+
  4. Cavey
    “Nigerian Girl Problems…you’d probably not resonate with it”. HOGWASH! This was beautifully put together; raw, vulnerable and strong at the same time (if that even makes sense) and just honest all the way to the end at the same time. Thank you, @lipglossmaffia for this!

    PS: Yes, guys have similar struggles too

    1+
  5. mollie12
    The part on being jealous of guys because their lives seem to be easy…well, not quite. They also have their struggles, even in this Nigerian society. They are built with the same emotional make up as us, but society has high expectations of them being providers (even in cosmopolitan environments where they get about the same opportunities as women), and also expects them to be shut up and be strong all the time, even in the face of extreme trauma. Take the issue of domestic violence. At least the female victim knows she can cry out and get sympathy in some quarters, but the male victim dares not, for fear of being told he is less than a man and being made an object of ridicule. Yes, society is tough on us, but we women tend to fall into a trap of being overtly introspective to the point of thinking its us vs the world, meanwhile the true story is that its the world vs itself. Life is a struggle on all fronts, for both black and white, rich and poor, male and female, big and small. That’s why we are told to “smile, cause everyone is facing their own battle”.
    2+
  6. Toby
    * Slow clap that builds into thunderous standing ovation*
    OMG, I actually shed a tear.

    This rawness, the power in your words, the flourishing hope, it leaves me breathless. As a guy, it shows that even though i may be disenfranchised, I still enjoy most of the amenities and graces that the society unknowingly disregards the strong powerful females.

    Wow, this post, Pure love.

    You are fantastic. Truly and truly.

    0

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