My body and I, both are one and the same. It is very much a part of me and will always be. I am not one to go on a diet and to be entirely honest, I have never needed to. I have always been lean, something passed on from my grandparents, they said it is in the Fula genes I carry.
Growing up within African cultures and traditions where curves are celebrated, being lean or skinny was a sign of poverty, lack of nutrition and not pleasing to the eyes of many. Fortunately, this notion is being challenged.There's increase rate in obesity, diabetes and hypertension and the list of lifestyle illnesses goes on. My generation are taking their physical and mental health seriously, leaving biased cultural norms behind.
There were times I wanted wider hips and full cup breasts. I remember an aunt making remarks about my calves. She said they were like that of a mosquito which are non-existent and the mother continued saying I looked like a boy in heels the first time I wore a pair.The elder sister said my arms were too muscular.. fast forward 2008 Michelle Obama’s arms looked perfect #goals. The little sister used to joke about my A cup breasts when she was about 10 and I did not take her seriously. She desperately wanted big breast and now at 18 she wants her double D’s gone…HA the irony.These people mentioned above are well endowed and felt desirable or so it seemed. I found solace with the grandmother. She was very lean, strong, and resilient, gave birth to 8 healthy children my father included. I remember her pining and hemming my skirts/clothes to secure them on my tiny waist so no one would tease me. She would smile and assure me “I too look like you and one day you’ll fit into yourself.” I did grow into myself, puberty did a fabulous job on that. Everything changed, the curves and A cups appeared and I was pleased. The remarks did not stop though, neither did the teasing, hair texture, skin tone and characteristics were picked on too. Colourism is a plague within families and communities, sadly but true. It is easy to be mean to people different to ourselves and we tend to forget the effects of words. It is kind to share a beautiful compliment to anyone however, one mean word will linger on the mind for a very long time.
My body is a gift, beautifully created and I want to take care of it. After all, this is the only gift I cannot exchange or trade, not that I have any plans to even if I could. I do my best to encourage body positivity and self-compassion. I refuse to be one who contributes to the development of body dysmorphia.
I also mastered walking in heels in the streets of Manchester and my calves! Oh those 5k runs really strengthened them.
Fast forward 5 years and I am the heaviest I have ever weighed in my life. Some days I tell myself to get outside running like I used to. Recently my attempts include indoor aerobics and yoga then I lose my motivation. Every year without fail, especially during the wintery months the curves get curvier and then comes spring, along with Ramadan in the summer. My lean body emerges, I will go on hikes, drink more fluids and eat less. I call this my body’s own method of homeostasis, regulating itself.
When I look into the mirror, I look to appreciate everything, from the curly-fro to my toes including those Dermatosis papulosa nigra adding character to my face and making me who I really am, part of a whole, my body and I. I intend to treat my body healthier and to be more compassionate towards it. Maturity is exciting and I look forward to many more exciting journeys such as childbearing and its changes, middle age and old age. I hope I will appreciate my body then as well.
Good vibes and curves,