Today is another episode of our self-love series; this is dedicated to skinny girls. If you missed the last self-love post you can read it here.
Gone are the days when skinny girls used to be popular. In fact in Africa, skinny has never been popular. It’s all about em curves. The pressure has and continues to make women seek ways to increase their breasts and behinds. (Behind, lol)
It’s a race of who is curvier or who is skinnier depending with which part of the planet you come from. I wonder why we can’t just live and stop this entire hullabaloo. Anyway being someone who has experienced both, (those who know me before I lost weight always feel the need to remind me and ask why.. I understand though, I get it. Or not) for the longest time now, I have been on a roller coaster of losing and gaining weight. Losing for the most part, I have had my fair share of the struggle and the constant nag to eat and gain weight.
So today I decided to dedicate the self-love series to skinny girls, through a perfect poem by Ngozi Cole that I came across.
Ngozi Cole is a Sierra Leone woman, a storyteller whose refugee experience in injustices sparked human rights interest in her. She was awarded a scholarship to join the inaugural class of the African Leadership Academy. In 2013 Ngozi received recipient the National Youth Excellence Award for Leadership in Sierra Leone, She has contributed to Voice of Women Initiative, For Harriet, Open Society’s Open Space, and African Youth Journal.
I Hope you get comfortable in your skin, love your own body, improve and work on yourself without getting caught in the pressures of this life. You will never be good enough for it.
I will start with the last part…
This is for skinny girls, who are not supposed to have body image issues, and dare not complain about their insecurities. This is for skinny girls who binge eat in the hope of finding their fullness. This is for skinny girls who are shamed and blamed for the media’s dastardly message that skinnier is prettier. This is for skinny girls whose jobs do not include posing for cameras or walking Victoria’s Secret runways.
“Just eat more!”
“Bo you dray o”
“Of course you can afford to eat another doughnut, look at you”
“Somebody feed her-fufu or a Big Mac ”
… The gentle violence.
The rib counting started early, when the crooked finger poked at her collar-bone, the grey eyebrows furrowed, and the rice matriarch cast a disapproving glance on her flat chest and flat ass … “you nor full up yay sef.” After that she would go to her room and take off her uniform, stand in front of the mirror and count the bones stretched tightly against thin spare flesh.
Then she would get her big bowl of rice and soup, each spoonful was less delicious than the previous one… diminishing returns… but the rice had to be finished. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she crept out into the backyard and fed the dog some of it, praying he would devour it quickly before anyone saw her.
Then she would present the empty bowl to the rice matriarch, and in her eyes, there would be a glimmer of hope that someday, she would be a little bit voluptuous and “full up yay.” Then the night would come and in her dreams, there was always a man forcing rice down her throat. Thankfully, she finally learned to love her body, but this strange man still haunted her dreams.
“Do you even eat?”
The rib counting continued later on, even after he told her that it was okay that her fullness wasn’t “in all the right places,” that it instead fattened her beautiful spirit. Despite the well-meaning flattery behind the “compliment,” it never drowned out every self-conscious voice in her head, and her collar bones still stuck out defiantly, falsely giving off signs of persistent hunger, bitterness, and bitchiness.
The ribs were okay — they could be hidden under over-sized clothing. The legs were a problem though, especially during the harsh purgatory of winter, when leggings and jeans were a necessity. Her legs would be tightly pressed against these and their thin form could not be hidden.
She hated sweatpants — her bony knees always seemed to stick out weirdly in them. After trudging through the snow the whole day she would return to her room, remove layers of grey and black… and count her ribs.
“Real women have curves,” and a model died from anorexia last week.
Was she faking her womanhood then? She didn’t really benefit from it either. She didn’t walk the runway. She was no Adriana Lima, Miranda Kerr or Liya Kebede. Her catwalk was her unwilling trek to work every morning on the slippery ice laden runway for $8.50 an hour.
No, she was not responsible for the media telling women that their body type was the epitome of the white capitalist construction of female beauty. She also wasn’t white. She was African, and was supposed to have a thick ass and bursting voluptuousness, according to constructions of “true African womanhood.”
This is for skinny girls who stand in front of a mirror… counting our ribs… sometimes unsure of our own fullness.
Photography: Dee Photography (+254 700 579 060) Thank you to the amazing Dee for capturing the shots for me. It was fun shooting with you.