Sunday, 22 February 2015

Body Image

I remember about 13 years ago I had my first Barbie doll. She had long beautiful black hair, a flat toned tummy, and beautiful large hips and oh, she always had make-up on. I strongly believed that and like most naïve kids that would look just like her when I grow up.
I don’t look like her, at all. In today’s world, one of the most popular topics to discuss is “health, fitness and looking good”,. When I discuss fitness with a friend who in my opinion looks super-hot, she’d always tell me how much she hates her lower abdomen and I’m not exaggerating when I say she looks like a model. I’m even guilt of saying things like, ‘how can Beyoncé look like that after having a child and I’m over here like, I love cake’.
Nigerians are catching up to the fact that being healthy and fit is the way forward. I even had a discussion with my workout partners about fitness. We came to realize that the beer industry would start failing, gardens would start shorting down business even though it’s one of the best businesses in Nigeria second to Pastoring (we’ll leave that for another day). ;)
It’s all well and good when everyone is fit and healthy but when everyone is trying to get an idea of perfection that doesn’t really exist, well that’s when the problem begins. Someone once told me the reason why women in general workout is to please their men, I told that person,  I work out because I know the image of myself I’m trying to create, I work out for myself. Wait a minuteK. Is that right?
According to Wikipedia, physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances and maintains physical fitness and well-being. So it doesn’t have to do with your physical appearance right? Let’s go on, it is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, hoarding athletic skills, weight loss and maintenance, as well as the purpose of enjoyment.
So just 1/5 of the benefits of physical exercise is associated with physical appearance and it didn’t mention that it was going to give you a celebrity's body, because let’s be honest, that body isn’t even real.
So why is having the perfect body so important and who came up with this idea of what is perfect and what isn’t. In a blog spot called ‘Pretty’, I discussed the concept of beauty and how it came about.  In a prehistoric artwork called The Venus of Willendorf the vital organs in women were exaggerated and the not so important ones were poorly represented. Being in the 21st century life imitates art(check out Nicki Minag's Pink Friday cover and the picture of The Venus of Willendorf, you see what I'm talking about. Unrealistic versions of ourselves are created through photo shop or permanently through plastic surgery. The concept of the perfect body is impossible to obtain, even though you are ready to dedicate the amount of time, energy and money that goes into creating that body. It is impossible to get that exact body because most of the pictures we see have been photo-shopped and airbrushed. Ps, please take a good look at Kris Jenner during the earlier periods of KUWTK and the most recent ones.
I write this because I’ve taken note of some particular trends in the western world and how Africans or Nigerians have blindly followed in their footsteps, instead of avoiding the negative we just copy everything we see. Yes everyone is becoming more health conscious and eating right, but some of us are getting that “perfect body” through dietary pills, restricting consumption of particular food groups and starvation. We weren’t created to eat neither were we meant to eat some of the crap the western world has label as food. Rather food is just a fuel created to be eating moderately.
To be in any type of business there has to be a need, or want to meet the demands of the consumers. So a problem has to be created before the cure is. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a hand full of other problems were created through fast food and the solutions to these problems are dietary pills, workout equipment, surgery and health care. Let’s take Rob Kardashian as a case study. He’s the only Kardashian who seems to have had more problems than the others; he becomes anti-social and less successful as KUWTKs gets more popular. A large part of this reason is because he’s gained a lot of weight. His sisters have even found junk food under his bed and to top it all off he’s been suffering from depression.  He wears black clothes all the time, he hardly makes appearances on the show, he’s even had problems with Kim a number of times where she calls him lazy and fat. He didn’t even attend her wedding just because of his weight problems. People like Rob represent the before picture on ads while people like Kim represent the after picture on ads.

I see Nigerians growing too body conscious to the point that they beginning to have poor body image. Body image is an idea of how see ourselves based on our exposure to the media, or our definition of beauty despite what everyone thinks is beautiful. A part of me feels that we may not have a problem with body image because we have more important issues to worry about. But like most problems we have, which were caused by westernization it may just start. So ask yourself, why do you exercise, why do you have certain eating habits,  what is your definition of being fit and healthy, what is your definition of beauty and have all these notions been positively or negatively influenced by the media.

Saturday, 7 February 2015


From the day I made a conscious decision to be a writer. I had started cheating myself and only finding ways to help my futures followers by neglecting myself. The purpose of this writing business was to speak without having anxiety about sounding like a fool. I wanted to experience the act of simply expressing myself without the pressure of impressing or offending anyone. I’m losing that, every day. Sometimes I hear so many voices and I know it’s because I’ve been trying too hard to refine my writing and make it appealing to attract a great following. The consequence of this was near Paranoia, because my thoughts, at least some of them, were denied an outlet, an environment to grow and flourish. Instead my thoughts were bottled up in my head and were growing into an ugly creature, something I couldn’t recognize. I have come to release that everyone needs an outlet, a platform to express oneself truly, without fear of judgment.
I have had encounters of men coming up to talk to me, pretending like they know me from somewhere, all in the name of starting a conversation. When I set them straight, they walk away without an atom of shame, like they expected it. While taking walks, I would pass by newsstands and see groups of men addressing this and that issue, never buying a newspaper. They would speak with so much authority, you would think that they that thoroughly analyzed every sentence in that paper. You would also think that they had gone further to make their own research, involving the paper’s headline. This occurred in the afternoon, when the sun’s intensity is at its peak. I always ask myself why these men are more than willing to suffer under the scorching sun all in the name of having their voices heard.
But you would find that there are people that are not so keen to verbal self-expression. I was one of those people; at least I thought I was. Self-expression doesn’t have to be verbal, like what you wear, your body language, your taste in interior design, even your food choice says a lot about you. Introverts or generally quiet people tend to express themselves more than their louder counterparts, the extroverts. They don’t rely on verbal communication alone, because they feel that it wouldn’t be enough to express how they truly feel. So even when an introvert tries to express themselves it becomes more and more difficult to understand that person because, there are so many layers and puzzles hidden in just that one person. I say this because I am an introvert and I tend to do this a lot, I do not speak for every introvert, but this is what I have observed in not just myself but others like me.
I want to be understood, but yet I fear that my flaws and weaknesses can be used against me. So I released my thoughts not in way that can be fully understood but to the point where I can justify that I have expressed myself. Well that’s something I had to learn to grow out of cause there was no point of me secretly wanting a relationship and acting like I don’t want people around me. There was no point of crying myself to sleep asking myself what was wrong with me and putting up a brave face like I couldn’t be bothered. I also didn’t want to be exploited for my openness and nativity, because I have lived the two worlds of openness and secrecy. I had to find balance; I had to find a way of not giving so much of myself and yet, I had to be able to express myself.
Self-expression makes me understand why social media is not just thriving but powerful. It was created for the purpose of true self-expression. But now it has become an avenue for showing off, for showing which people have the coolest gadgets and clothes, to see who’s more flawless, who has the more fabulous life. It’s a playground where we all wear pretty little masks, where we lose ourselves behind that mask. Neither becoming what we wish ourselves to be and never really who we once were because perfection is impossible (at least this worlds idea of perfection). In the end, we become a distorted version of ourselves and the whole purpose of social media is defeated. In fact, the complete opposite starts happening because instead of knowing who we truly are through self-expression we turn ourselves into something else, something we can never understanding or recognize.
So my dear readers we have to be honest in all things, especially with ourselves. Don’t bear your soul to the world, because we live in a very wicked place. Instead express yourself, in a way that can help you know yourself more and in the process of self-discover you may also encourage others in this journey by simply being true to yourself. Do not use effects and highlights to create a new that does not exist.