There’s a general belief that body shaming only has to do with plus-size people. But that is a huge misconception. In Nigeria, skinny women probably have it worse.
We asked 5 different Nigerian women what it means being skinny in a country where the “ideal” size is anything but a size 0.
Chisimdi Nzotta, likened being skinny in Nigeria to living with a disability, and it’s not hard to see why. There is always one person offering their unsolicited opinions on what drugs or food supplements you should take to look “normal”.
Tosin Olaniyi, a lifestyle blogger, has had jobs denied her because of her size. She’s had to deal with people calling her names like “Pelenge” and the likes.
Binyelum Ewulluh, a content manager whose number one goal has been to add some weight says that even though she’s succeeded in adding a little weight, there are people who still think it’s not enough, that she’s not enough.
You are not exactly a “full woman” in the eyes of many Nigerians if you do not have the curves to prove your “womanhood”. And you’re not woman enough if men do not find you appealing.
Laura Iheke, who works as a Presenter in Lagos, Nigeria has often been told “one white man will come and marry you” because Nigerian men – at least most of them – do not like “bones”. She’s had to completely avoid wearing short dresses for most of her adult life so as to not call attention to her skinny legs.
The fashion industry globally is more favourable to skinny models – there have been cases of brands suffering backlash for encouraging Anorexia by hiring bone-thin models. It is different in Nigeria. Tiffany Ayanleke who has been modelling for about 5 years in the country hasn’t had it so easy. She’d go for fittings for campaigns and runway shows, and would get nothing because the designers in Nigeria do not always make provisions for size 6 women.
That is not to say the designers are to blame. In all fairness, if the average Nigerian woman is a size 10, it would make more sense for your business to make clothes in that size. But average is a farce when there are lots of women in Nigeria who are skinny by society’s standards – standards foisted on us by patriarchy and the need to not want something for ourselves as women, but for the men in (and out of) our lives.