I was not born with a flat tummy. As far back as my early teens, I was aware that my lower abdomen bulged out more than it should. It was more worrying because I was stick thin and back then I did not know that bodies were created differently. At first, I thought that something was wrong with me. And that was beginning of me spoiling my posture. I hated wearing straight skirt because it brought emphasis to my imperfection. I tried as much as possible to stay away from clothes that were form fitting especially for the lower part of my body. People complimented me on how great my body was and encouraged to take up modelling but I never bothered to see if I could make a career of it. Whenever I was watched fashion shows and watched those perfect figures strut down the runway, I knew that there was no way I was going to let anyone see my “bulge”. I was able to deceive people for as long as I remained slim and fate was kind to me until I hit the big 3 and 0.
I had always had a fast metabolism and could devour anything and everything I wanted to. My friends envied my physique and I honestly didn’t know what I had till I lost it. I started to put on weight. I put on about ten kg in a year. People complimented my new body but I hated it. My waist went from a 26” to 30”. I had never like looking at myself in a full-length mirror but after the weight gain, I downright hated it. I looked like a panda. And my bulge grew even bigger. I was even more anxious whenever I had to wear outfits. I had developed a fondness for form fitting clothes as I grew older but I was scared to wear them because of the bulge. It was easier to hide the bulge with skirts and shirts but not so much with dresses. I quickly discovered the power of the peplum. If there would be no peplum, I had to make the tailor some sort of ruffle or design to cover my fupa. It got to a point that all of my native attire had to have peplums on the blouses. I also wore a lot of loose gowns and boubous because they don’t require having to suck in anything. Sucking in your abdomen takes a lot of energy. When you are drained emotionally, there is no way that you would even be able to muster the appear “fupaless”.
And Nigerian men are just the worst.
Recently, I went to a wedding where I met an ex. It was the day to wear the aso-ebi and I sewed a boubou because I still hated my new body. This man had the nerve to tell me that I needed to work on my tummy. I have never wanted to slap a person so much and die at the same time. A colleague at work who is supposed to be an ustaz looked at me and said “you don turn orobo”.
Would I have over reacted if I had cried right there and then?
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Halimah is a firm believer that the education and empowerment of women are essential tools for lasting peace and progress in our society and that women should be allowed to pursue whatsoever path they choose. Born and raised in Nigeria, she has been described as "outspoken,energetic and diligent". Her passion for social change has led her to volunteer at a number of organizations that are passionate about having a tangible impact on society. Halimah currently works as an Assistant lecturer at the Department of Library and Information Technology,Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria. She hopes to establish a mentoring program to provide young girls and women with proper guidance to make informed choices aimed at personal fufillment. She relaxes by reading and watching movies.