"Why are you so BIG?".
"No one in this family is as big as you!".
"Mhmm your parents should have sent you to Nigeria to slim down".
"You have such a pretty face, but your body is probably what throws men off."
"We want to come to a wedding soon, so please start going to the gym more!"
All real comments made to me, all supposedly well intentioned.
As I begin this series on Mentalities , I thought the best way to start would be discussing how my issues with my weight and my health began. *This post is going to be relatively general. What I mean is, I am not going to be going to great detail about the damaging things I did to my body to lose weight because I would hate for anyone to do half of what I did to myself.*
For my non-Nigerians the term "Orobo" is a slang word used to described an overweight or "fat" person. This term can be used either as a description, or an insult depending on what context it is used. I heard this term quite frequently when I was being described while I was in Nigeria last summer and at first I was offended but friends and loved ones assured me that "it's just a description". We will talk further about this later on in the post.
For as long as I can remember I have been "fat", I put this term in quotation marks because although I see it as just a description, to others it means much more. There is a lot of pain associated with this word for so many people and I never want to disregard that. In elementary school, I was often the biggest child in my class and as early as fourth grade, I was already well into wearing "junior" size clothing.
My mother often gently cautioned me whenever I ate, telling me "be careful how much you eat", and she often encouraged me to use the treadmill that we had in our small apartment's living room. Her advice almost always was ignored as I took an extra scoop of ice cream.
Anyone that knows me well has most likely heard me say at least twice a day "I do what I want". That is not something that sprouted out of teen angst or young womanhood, I always ignored people who "advised" me about my weight because after all, I didn't have a problem. Or at least I thought.
By fifth grade, I had gone on my first diet, I had done what I thought was good research and I was ready to go. In the mind of a 10 year old, my primary desire for losing weight was to be able to shop at Limited Too and Rainbow (throwback) and to look like my friends for once in my life. My efforts were often met with encouragement from my mother and harsh criticism from my father.
Following my first diet at 10 years old, I was on a diet, for what felt like ALL THE TIME... To no apparent avail.
As I entered high school, it became obvious that my waistline was increasing with no point of return. It was around this time that comments from family friends, family members and well wishers. I vividly remember people asking my parents, most often my mother, "what have you been feeding these children?" It was then that I became more "self-aware" and started trying my best to eat less and move more. This effort was short lived due to the fact that all sorts of fast food restaurants were walking distance from my school.
By time college came around, my self awareness increased, but that is also when my self hate reached an all time high. I just wanted to be thin, I just wanted to be attractive, I just wanted other people to recognize my beauty. That same desire to wear the clothes my friends wore and to look like them intensified, only now it was more complicated- I also wanted to get as much "play" as them.
By "play", I mean having guys trying to talk to me, etc. I spent hours in the gym and my source of encouragement was "well at least guys will get some play now". My college years have been a struggle when it came to health because for me, I have always been so wrapped up in outer appearance. I did very extreme things to fit the ideal that others had for me.
Most people said they wanted me to be "healthy" but really, they just wanted me to be skinny. Since those who cared about me wanted this, I told myself that I wanted to be skinny too. I often told myself that once I lose weight, my life will change, I will be happy, I would get suitable "play" and I would have no problems. It was not until recently that I really had to reevaluate my desires. If I magically lost 100lbs today would that make me a better person? A happier person? Would that guarantee my entry into heaven? Probably not.
Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians points out that "if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I have not love,I am a noisy going or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13) Of course don't own a noisy gong but Paul's point is very clear if you don't have love, you will not have peace, you will not have joy and quite honestly, no matter how hard you try, your prospects in life will be relatively low. I am no theologist, but I can speculate that Apostle Paul was not only talking about loving others, he was encouraging us to love ourselves as well. When you love, it is clear to those around you most especially when you love yourself.
*I'm not going lie, I need to take the advice I just gave ya'll*
In regards to this whole "Orobo" thing I personally am no longer offended by the term. I am undergoing the process of accepting myself at my present point in life, that includes how I look. I am no longer interested in waiting to love who I wish I could be. It has been detrimental to almost area of my life. I have also decided to embrace it and my first step is not being ashamed of being "Ms. Orobo". *That doesn't mean you should refer to me as that though*
As always, thanks so much for reading this and check out my Pick of the Week!
God bless you.