You are more than your body

by Reina Ameenat Lasisi

Content Warning: This post includes references to body shaming, mental illness, physical and emotional abuse. If you are concerned about or wish to discuss any of these issues in confidence, please contact Zibah.

People’s unsolicited advice about our bodies, will never not amuse me and also anger me. The world seems to have come together and agreed that a particular body type is the best. It seems that there is an ideal body type that is accepted by society, and every other type that is different suffers and is condemned for not fitting into the requirement. So, this is a fat-bodied woman’s rant about how the society has dictated how she views and loves her body.

My name is Reina and I’m a fat woman. Yes, my identity is based on being a fat person because where I come from, being a size over 12 is proportional to being a glutton. I started hating my body, I think, when I was around twelve years old. I’ve always been a curvy person and a tad bit taller and bigger than girls my age, so much so that when I was 12, I told someone I was 18 and they believed me.

Growing up as a fat girl was hell.

I punished my body so much to fit into the acceptable standards because I’ve been told all my life, “You will have such a gorgeous body if only you can just work on that tummy of yours”. Or, my personal favourite, “You’ll never get a man if you keep looking like your mum’s age when you’re just 18”. As we know, women in my culture are conditioned to believe that they’ll never amount to anything if they can’t attract a man, no matter how many achievements they have to their name. Now, imagine me being told that I can’t attract a man with my XXL body size (note the sarcasm!).

I couldn’t take pictures for many years because I was ashamed of looking at my own face and body. Sometimes, I stand in front of the mirror and tell myself, “See how ugly you look, with your fat belly and jiggly arms”. I would eat and then force myself to vomit it all because I read somewhere that it made people lose weight. Or, was it in 2020 when I went on 12 hours intermittent fasting for about 6 months?

There is so much to unpack as a fat woman. Should we start on the mental toll it takes on you? Or, the emotional wreck it leaves you? Making you feel like you can’t be desired or loved because you’re not worth it? Or, because you don’t look like the body type that society claims you should be?

The Fatties Clan

Well, I’m really not here to talk about what the society thinks about a fat woman or says about how she’s supposed to view herself. I’m here to let fat women know that they are more. And this intention has led me to start a support community for fat women known as The Fatties Clan. It is a space that is dedicated to walking the journey of self-acceptance with fat women. A community where women know their own form and shape, and aim to build a better mentality for how they view themselves.

This community helps me to shout and scream to fat women that they are more.

You are more than the sumptuous and soft skin that covers you.

You are more fullness.

You are more beautiful.

You are not less, you awesome woman. You’re so. so much more.

You are that beautiful goddess that cuddles up with a blanket and a cup of tea when it rains.

You are that free-spirited beauty that dances around her apartment when her favourite song comes on, carrying out her cleaning chores, and wearing her favourite oversized tee-shirt.

You are that loud woman that wears bold and colourful outfits and shows up for herself even when she doesn’t feel like it.

You are that feeling that you get when you eat comfort foods because it feels like everything is not right with the world.

You are that beautiful smile you see in the mirror when you pass by it.

You’re so much more, my love. You are.

And I hope you never lose sight of that.

Reina is a third year Sociology student at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko in Nigeria, where she currently serves as the Vice-President of the Faculty of Social Sciences. She also runs Symphony Interiors an interior design business. As a body positivist, she volunteers with organisations that are involved in girls and women empowerment, youth leadership and counselling.

Image credits: The featured image from Pinterest is a black woman wearing an African print coloured headwrap, with matching bold purple lipstick and chunky neck and hand accessories. Second photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash shows a woman hiding her face in a dark room. The third image is the logo of The Fatties Clan provided by the author.