I am an INFP, meaning one of my main traits is having a very active imagination. Most of the times I get lost in my own little world. For all those whose smiles, winks, waves or worse still, stretched out hands (or arms) went unnoticed, I take this opportunity to apologize. I am very sorry, it was never intentional. You may think I am walking on the University of Nairobi sidewalks when in actual sense I am shoving past a crowd in Paris, well, at least in my head. I may be looking at you straight in the eye but in my head, I am giving a speech at one of the UN conferences.
“Today I want to talk about something that’s close to my heart, both literally and figuratively. Literally, because it covers the heart and other important organs in the body acting as a shock absorber. Figuratively, because… do I really need to explain that?”
I watch as the audience’s faces light up with anticipation and I smile sheepishly to myself. Then a ‘Lilian, have you heard what I’ve said?’ bursts my bubble and punctures the utopia I’ve created in my head. I get embarrassed and annoyed simultaneously because I am forced to go back to the real world. I love my active imagination, but sometimes it consumes me and gets me in trouble. Some people tend to think that I am a snob which I do understand. Also, I am very oblivious of my surroundings. There could be a petrol station somewhere whose name I don’t even know yet I pass by it everyday.
Okay, enough on my imagination. Today I wanted to expound more on the speech that has been in my head for a long time now. I had tried recording a video on it but I got frustrated midway and had to delete it. I wanted to write on the subject for a long time but I simply could not bring myself to. Setting deadlines and making sure everybody knew when to expect the article didn’t work. I kept thinking that if I were a columnist in one of the dailies I would have been fired by now because of my inability to meet deadlines. Sigh.
Anyway, I bet by now some of you have figured that I want to talk about fat. Being fat. I have always been the biggest person in the classes I’ve been to. The first time I noticed I was different, I was in nursery school. Some kids started calling me ‘jack nono’. To this day, I wonder where the jack came from. I even did some googling and I came across a nursery rhyme called: Jack Sprat. It goes like:
Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane.
Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane.
I know it has no relation to Jack being fat but can we all just take a moment and appreciate the absurdity of this nursery rhyme? Can you imagine 17th century kids speaking Elizabethan English? Me neither.
Many people get called mean names when they are in nursery school and lower primary school because at that age children are very honest and regurgitate all they have been taught at home; the good, the bad and the ugly. As we grow, we learn a few things and we change. Or maybe we learn to hide our prejudices better. Some people don’t change and I get it, sometimes we don’t know better.
I remember one day in high school I was walking really fast because I was running late to class. An acquaintance caught up with me and told me she was very happy to see me trying to lose weight and went on to tell me how research showed that walking fast burns more calories than jogging. People tend to assume that I am trying to lose weight whenever I do something different. I don’t feel like eating breakfast? I’m advised on how that is not the best way to lose weight. It is very irritating, to be honest, especially if the comments come from total strangers.
Oh how I love our society and its double standards. A society that tells you to love yourself the way you are and then the next minute tells you that you are not allowed to love yourself if you are not a certain size. I’ve seen big people embracing themselves and preaching body positivity on social media only to be told to shut up and take care of their health first. People love to use health as an excuse to body shame people.
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the health risks that come with obesity and I do try to lead an active lifestyle. However, I know that losing weight is not the key to happiness and self love. And I know that if I don’t love myself with what I have right now, I won’t love myself when I get what I want. So please, allow people to love themselves? Also, don’t go preaching about weight loss to total strangers and acquaintances. It’s annoying. We do talk about that with people who are close to us, who actually matter.
I won’t pretend that I don’t have insecurities. Don’t we all? Sometimes the comments get me. I laugh them off just to conceal the hurt. But most of the times, they don’t. Years of getting hurt and brushing off mean comments made sure I grew a thick skin. Like my friend Allan said, ‘I got used to brushing them off and with time, like a rock at the bed of a river, the current just flowed above it.’
That’s it. I feel like I should have said more. So many stories left unsaid but I hope what I’ve written is enough to bring the message home. Let’s be kind to one another. 🙂
I do love the good-humoured teases though! 😉