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?”
“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?”
“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.”
“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