In Defence of ‘Stick-Figures’

 What all this fuss about bodies? Who decides what an appropriate or perfect body is anyway? And what is wrong with women who do all sorts of things to ‘keep-in-shape’? Who decided what that shape was anyway? If you’re keeping in ‘shape’ so as to be more attractive to the opposite sex, fine.. by all means, go ahead, get breast implants, a nose job… whatever gets you there. Just don’t give me that crap about “I’m doing it for me“, “I want to feel beautiful“. And stop making other people feel bad about the way they look!

Now that’s off my chest….

I’ve always been slim.

Well, actually, about 10 years ago I was pretty skinny. At that time, growing up in Ghana, I always got the ‘Why are you so skinny?’ question, but not in the admiring tone that one usually hears when this question is asked in an American High school movie.

My mother didn’t care how I looked [mothers, they love their babies just as they are :-)] but my aunts would just not leave me alone. Everyone tried to stuff me with food, milk, eggs, cakes… I still have a sweet-tooth. Thank you aunties!  I ate… I still eat… a lot. They kept wondering where the food went.I have no idea, I mean I was a little tomboy running around, climbing trees and playing football, but I used to spend large chunks of my days reading as well, so where did all the food go?

At that time, I guess the ideal Ghanaian girl had to be plump (or fat),with large breasts, a large ass and shiny skin. I was skinny, flat-chested and my buttocks had less fat than non-fat yoghurt. So, imagine my confusion when whiles watching KTV and Movie Magic I saw scenes from movies where girls would cry themselves to sleep because they were fat or someone told them they had a fat ass! I even remember at one time consoling myself with the thought that all the women who meant anything in the world were built like me, the actresses, singers, women-leaders, activists… That kept me warm on some very cold nights.

I remember a boy in my class in Junior High School asking me if I had had my period. The reason, I didn’t have breasts and you need breasts to have your period, I guess…

Fast forward 6 or 7 years and suddenly, I AM HOT STUFF! The question became “How do you stay so slim?” Again, I had, I have no good answers… All I know is that that is how I am. It was pretty cool for a while to finally have a fashionable body, but soon enough I grew tired of it. There not much fun in taking pride in something you just are. I didn’t climb Mount Kilimanjaro or swim the entire length of the River Volta, all I was was slim. I didn’t even exercise or eat healthy food!

Fast forward 3 or 4 years and the fuss about underweight models and anorexia and other eating disorders. Add that to the new African-is-fashionable craze and allied movements. I remember seeing this artist’s blog. She painted nude images of ‘everyday women’. In her opinion, ‘everyday woman’ didn’t have ‘perfect’ bodies, they had stomachs and thighs and butts. They were not ‘stick figures’ with eating disorders.

Similar thing on the Ghanaian front… A true African beauty is big and beautiful. Skinny isn’t African enough, and if you’re skinny you probably don’t eat enough. Honestly, I think this movement is largely based on big people lashing out. Yet, whilst all this is perfectly understandable, Why the attacks on slim people? Is it necessary? Can’t you love your body, leave me to love my body and just shut up about it. And the slim people are just overdoing it with the retaliation. I’ve had it with the fat jokes on my twitter timeline. And I’ve had it with the ‘A Real African Woman is Well-Endowed’ comments as well. True African beauty? What kind of stupid notion is that? Do a quick image search, start with say.. Ethiopian women, note the body type, faces… then Somali women…. Angolan, Malian, Egyptian, Nigerian… form an impression yet? Take Ghana, the women here have different body sizes and shapes. 

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Is there no love for those of us who are like this because, well, we were born this way. What about us naturally slim girls?

And in conclusion, judging from my interaction with men, I’ve come to a conclusion. Most guys I know will moon over particular girls or models or actresses, but when it comes to crunch, THEY WILL HAVE SEX WITH ANYONE. forget the face and body nonsense, Available is the only criteria here… 

And if you’re really doing all this to look attractive to men, common sense indicates that you would want a similarly attractive man who looks after himself to. No? No.

“I see women barely breathing in corsets out with pot-bellied trolls all the time!”

So what’s really the point here?

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A Ghanaian Holocaust?

I sit here on my bed watching ‘The Pianist’ with tears streaming down my face and anger mixed with pity in my heart. As I watch the movie, I try to imagine myself as a Jew living under such circumstances. I am outraged, confused, horrified and above all filled with an overwhelming sense of pity.

I ask myself how it ever happened. I wonder what kind of people would do such horrible things to their fellow human beings. What were they thinking? How did they see the Jews or the Gypsies? Possible answers flood my brain. I’ve been putting off reading Mein Kampf for so long. I find it, start reading it and stop in disgust. On particular bit really catches my attention…

“And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.”

New thoughts fill my head now… ‘Could this happen in Ghana?’ I panic ‘No! Absolutely not! We’re peace-loving… We are’ Unbidden, memories of some of the things I heard and read when the issues of homosexuality came up in Ghanaian public discourse flood my head. Things like

Let’s gather all the lesbians and rape them. That will teach them to like men.

If I found out my son was gay, I would kill him.

These people are not proper human beings. They are an abomination.

God detests homosexuality.

The Bible speaks against it. If we do not want to incur the wrath of God, let’s put a stop to homosexuality.

Some ministers ordered the arrest of homosexuals in their communities. Mothers cast away their sons.

The beginnings are harmless enough… They start with statements like these from ‘righteous’ people.

One thing I know is that Hitler did not develop these ideas in a vacuum, all by himself. He heard things, he saw things.. People were muttering about the Jews around him.. He read articles and books.. Yes. Including the Bible. He interpreted it to suit his own ideals.

Then they become ideas that fester and become ‘views’ and if it is not checked, soon enough, another Adolf or Adolfine might rise and form an opinion about it, maybe write a book. Perhaps she/he will get to become an architect and it would stop there. Well, perhaps she/he would design some pretty horrendous building, but hey, it’s nothing we have not seen before… And what if it doesn’t stop there? What if she/he becomes the most powerful person in Ghana, or Africa and decides to rid the world of ‘undesirables’.

I shudder to imagine what might happen. For perhaps the millionth time in my life, I wonder if there’s really a God. I wont feel assured of that today. Perhaps I’ll feel it tomorrow when I hear my  mother’s voice or see a beautiful cloud.

Not tonight… My heart is too heavy, my nose is too runny…