Hi, my name is Semira and I love my body.
Cheesy I know, but that’s the first sentence that popped in my head when Toke asked me to write about getting over my body insecurities. I tell myself that line every morning, like I’m addressing a support group, and I can’t say it helps but it has become a force of habit. What (or who) helped me however, were my two best friends.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been on the chubby side. Not the unhealthy kind, but my stomach has always had a little extra roll to it. I was never bothered by it even though I got some mild ribbing about it as a kid, I used to reply that my body was made for cuddling.
I got into my first serious relationship in my third year of university, I can’t claim to have been young and in love because I was not. But my boyfriend was good looking, the kind of good looking you took a second glance at, and I enjoyed the “how did she do it?” looks I got from other girls.
The verbal abuse started off slow, in fact I didn’t realize what it was until I got out of the relationship. I was used to being called names because of my size, but they were never mean spirited. Usually I would get called names like orobo or teddy bear, but my boyfriend would call me names like piggy or chunky with a snide look on his face. I complained but he would say they were just names and they meant nothing.
With time the abuse worsened. He began dictating what I could and could not wear, he would laugh and call me a greedy pig whenever he saw me eating anything at all. Soon anytime I looked in the mirror, I saw myself exactly how he wanted me to. I thought I was too fat, and my arms were too big and all the clothes I wore didn’t look good on me.
My best friends had no idea what was going on, they noticed I was buying clothes in a size or two larger than my usual and complained, but I always brushed them off. One day one of them happened to see a text come in from him, instructing me not to wear anything that would make me look like a “fat fuck” to a party we were supposed to attend later in the day.
My friend was livid, she called him immediately and called him names I don’t think I’m allowed to repeat on here. She called up my other friend and a mini intervention was organized, and through a lot of tears and even more alcohol, they made me tell them all I had been through.
My friends are practical, no nonsense people and instead of cuddling me out of the depression I had sunk into, they bullied me out of it. They didn’t give me time to wallow in self pity, they made me wear clothes I wouldn’t have even worn before my relationship and organized so many blind dates I lost count of how many people I had been out with by the end of the month.
It’s been years since this happened, and on some bad days when I look in the mirror I still see myself the way my ex would want me to. But I’ve come a long way and on most days all I see is a beautiful, strong Yoruba woman.