Hi, my name is Suyi, and I’m a Slim Jim (of the Lepa variety, not the sausage or the lock pick).

Everyday, we’re peppered with feminist propaganda, advising women to take pride in whatever body they’ve been blessed with, and scolding menfolk and the media for setting bars for the Absolute Female Body™. I’d say this is quite the winning strategy, since this movement has actually set the pace for new perceptions regarding body image, and not just in Nigeria or Africa.

Then, of course, we know that buff boys are the darlings of TV and otherwise. Even chubby men with just a hint of a pouch still make that cut, covered by the umbrella of “I can convert these to packs”. Male frames any burlier than those two are frowned upon, yes, but as Africans, of course we believe a guy piling adipose is a sign that he has “arrived.”

So, come to think of it, only obese or pregnant African men really get shtick for their plus sizes, and sometimes not so much as to significantly impair their social images.

But what about us Slim Jims? Well, here. Three stories that summarise a day in the life of a Nigerian Slim Jim.

1. During a call to Momma/Auntie/[Insert Elderly Extended Family Member Here].

“Hmm, Suyi. This one that you went to hide in one hole in Lagos and won’t visit. Are you eating self?”

“I’m eating.”

“Eating what?”

“Hian. Food na.”

“Rice and KFC abi? Hei, God. That’s why you’re skinny like this.

“Mummy, I’m not even underweight. My last full checkup showed a clean bill of health.”

“Lemme hear word. You’re too thin. Start eating.”

2. Out with office mates. Small talk with a female colleague.

“So, what’re you doing for your weight?”

“Who, me? Nothing. Why?”

“Why not? Are you okay with the way you are?”

“Of course.”

“Oh, you are. Oh, okay then.”

“What? Say it.”

“It’s just…I don’t know, there’s a lot of potential there. If you’d just add some weight.”

“You’re saying I’m not attractive like this?”

“You could do better.”

“Gaddem. You’re actually serious.”

“Well. I, for one, could never date a thin guy.”

Speechless.

“Eat five eggs a day and get a gym subscription. It’ll work wonders.”

“Oh look, someone else to talk to…”

3. On Social Media

Me: posts regular harmless photo

Commenter 1, male: I see chopsticks. Where are your arms?

Commenter 2, female: God, Suyi, add weight ooooo

Commenter 3, male: Guy, you still dey like this? You never land one babe to dey knack you soup with heavy obstacles?

Commenter 4, female: Don’t mind them, Suyi. When you start making big pay, you’ll add more flesh.

Commenter 5, female: My brother did this diet plan where he ate six times a day for a year. Look at him now. Attaches photo of John Cena.

***

For all the talk about body image and its focus on women, it usually goes unnoticed that there is a standard for the Absolute Male Body™ as well. Yes, it’s true that the world is much more lenient on the male frame, but it doesn’t take away the fact that there are still expectations. Be ye neither too fat nor too slim, lest we brand thee an outcast. And seeing as the African society favours the burlier over the skinnier, the Slim Jims claim bottom ranking in male body images.

So, question for the day. How do we navigate these waters? Well, here. The top three ways I fight my everyday battles.

1. It starts with self image. Know thyself. I’m of the opinion that one’s self esteem should be built on the sum total of the things that make them tick. So if your self esteem is built solely on how you don’t look like Ryan Reynolds, rather than on how you speak six languages and are widely versed, it’s on you, fam.

2. Own it. Shey the pack boys cannot open shirt in public? Ehen. So, you’re not that disadvantaged then. Rock what you can. Look good. Wear fitting clothes (not skinny jeans, thank you). Shave (or not). Divert the focus from your frame. And for God’s sake, quit taking Social Media comments to heart.

3. If all else fails, use your mouth. I don’t mean do a Suarez, hell no. But it’s not out of place to tell someone off when they go overboard. It’s what they get for shaming. I personally possessed an arsenal of retorts back in the day (Ah. Fun times). Talk that talk, fam.

Now, this is all just my opinion, not the Gospel. How about you lot disagree with me in the comments section?

Image via Lyst

Responses

  1. Yaz
    bhet seriously though, its not funny the way peeps just assume you are not eating,not healthy or you are poor and deprived just cos you are slim/skinny. we do have a clean bill of health to prove otherwise.. but anyhoo, like you said possess an arsenal of retorts and dont take their comments to heart. my 2cents.
    2+
  2. Pingback: Of Slim Jims and Navigating Turbulent Lepa Waters | Newsroom Demo

  3. joe
    My dad will tell my brother and I that he was skinny too till he got married. I’m really waiting to “arrive” too. I need to add flesh. Not added weight in like 4 years.
    1+
  4. Tiki
    Loool, i read this and immediately i thought about this really sweet guy i know who just looks like a stick.

    To be honest, i never really thought about it being considered an insult or à slight. However, being of the (very) thick category of females, i totally understand how jibes relating to body image can be hurtful. Oh well. I can only promise to do better from here on out. B sweetie, i’m sorry.

    On the upside though, i hear (yes, i said hear, not know. Sue me :p) that these Slim Jims are the ones packing. And i mean kgs, not them t’en t’en grams some people can like to feel important with. So Suyi, not to worry. A real woman will know which one is important, whether it is ordinary flesh, or THE ULTIMATE flesh.

    But bros, if it aint swaying left and right, pelé. Just eat.

    8+
  5. N9
    Nice write up!!.. I can totally relate to this. The slim struggle was real though especially if it is hereditary and one had a hilarious squad like mine; you’re suddenly Peter crouch during football ( I’m quite tall) , the ‘are you sure you don’t want extra food’ when you go to someone’s house, or being described as ‘ ‘that thin dude’ lol .. *facepalm*, walking with my friends and it’s windy they all rush to hold me .. Just to get a laugh. Oh them days 🙂
    And to think now I’m watching my weight. Oh
    4+
    1. Suyi
      “walking with my friends and it’s windy they all rush to hold me…”
      Lmao. I never experienced this, but if I did, I think I might’ve enjoyed the laughs alongside them.
      Me too, I’m watching my weight. I’m watching it struggle to rise. Hehe.
      2+
      1. N9
        You can add … Just eat a lot and hit the gym. Sounds counter productive, but yeah, it worked for me, albeit discovered by accident. Gained 15kg in 4 months. ( no kidding here and no, this is not an ad. for a gym).
        0
  6. Alberry
    I can totally relate… Everybody says I need to start eating till they see me make a mole Hill of Mount EBArest… Then I get the “where does all this food you’re eating go” question. I love me my slender body
    4+
  7. Femme
    This made me laugh!!! Truth is, most of these guys will actually add some flesh as they get older but some will remain skinny. Abt the junk……that thing is not so true ooo, i know one that this does not apply to at all, looks like his junk took after the body! LOL!
    2+
  8. @ImpurfectHer
    I have always preferred slim guys, I don’t even know why. Probably cos I am thick, and muscled guys remind me of my body size :/ I can’t look at a muscled guy without remembering WWE and fearing that someone like that would punch me someday if I date him *smh.

    Suyi, some girl would come someday and you’ll know all that talk about slim Jims ain’t important

    1+
  9. Gabriel Shaze
    Lol. Small body no be sickness.

    I’ve lived long enough to know that no matter what your size is, people will always have an issue with it.
    Momsy would always ask me where all the food I eat goes to when I go for another serving.

    I’ve always been on the skinny side of the weight scale until I decided to do something about it last year. A colleague who was getting ready for her wedding decided to start drinking Complan sef so she could add a little weight and I was like, why not :D. I later dumped the drink anyway & started doing pushups and other bodyweight exercises and suddenly my work shirts started becoming uncomfortable to put on.

    Went home some months ago and my sisters and momsy are like “Why are you getting big like this?” I dunno again.

    Be comfortable in your skin & most importantly, exercise and stay healthy. A slender body doesn’t equate to being physically fit.

    5+
  10. D.K
    Hi Suyi. Do you look anything like the man in this post? If yes, can I take you out for a nice cozy dinner sometime? ;;)
    There is something very sexy, yummy and delicious about slim guys. Then if you are dark and taller than I am, you have my heart boo…you have my heart.
    1+
  11. Seyi
    Tah! I’ve always heard ‘tall, slim, dark and handsome’ and I like tall slim guys, even bordering on lanky. So I’ve always assumed everyone is like me, except for some few weird ones, until this article. If you get fat they’ll still talk. Almost a month ago I secretly took a very very tall, slim guy’s *drools* picture in church and I approached him two weeks ago to tell him that I like his slimness. He was blushing mehn, said he didn’t like it but he has resigned himself to fate. So I might have helped his psychology there and that’s good. Slim guys are the HOTTEST I don’t dig packs
    1+
  12. SeryxMe
    I’m seriously lolling at this post like… I can relate. Very well sef. But I’ve always understood that people have preferences and this will always come into play when selecting partners. Most of us are comfortable with people with any body size as friends but intimacy is another matter. I’ve learnt to accept being slim and I’ve come to understand that you will have people who just love the way you are or don’t care too much about it. Personally I’ve always preferred slim, petite ladies so I understand when someone doesn’t like me slim. We all have our preferences and you will always find someone who loves you exactly the way you are. That’s some psychological boost right there.

    But then those talks about how we’re slim, where all the food goes, how we need to fatten up, etc., won’t stop. I don’t let them bother me anymore. Suyi’s advice is key and living healthy like Gabriel said is equally important. Having a very good sense of humour also helps to see things in lighter shades rather than getting angry or moody over these talks. Just how I see it though. 🙂

    0
  13. BOMA
    At home, mum’s on my case “eat food o, it’s as if we eat and clean the oil on your body”. When I was in uni, I had these friends(there were girls, and in the words of Sheldon, they were not my girlfriends) that were not Tyra banks slim but they were not close to being thick, tell me constant how they wish they were like me
    0
  14. Sunshine
    Haha! I wouldn’t call myself slim but my mum and grandma never cease to give me the “please eat” or “you’re to thin” lecture. A couple of months ago, I started adding weight and my mum was the first person to call me “Orobo”, mind you, I just went from a size 8 to a size 10, i was barely a ten sef. Anywaiz, no matter what size you are, people will still complain. I kinda envy my skinny friends tho, you know the ones with the flat tummy that no matter what they eat, the stomach never bulges…
    0

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