Here I was at my mom's birthday celebration (having a good ole time since I had my good hair in, see here) as my sister walked in the men at the table (noting our resemblance) asked if I was the older sister. I stated that I was the younger and without hesitation he yelled "How can that be! you're so much bigger" as if your size determines your age or birth order. I have always been bigger than my sister, and our family and friends are always sure to mention that. I though I had grown immune to it but it has gotten worse since I gained a bit more and moved back home. Now I see my mom's friends more frequently and every interaction is just as awkward as the next. What makes it worse is that I never hear my family defend me when these comments are being made, often times they too chime into the conversation. Whenever I try to talk to my family about it they brush it off as being standard in our culture "You know Africans always have something to say" as if that's a justifiable excuse to insult someone. It was so prevalent during my recent trip to Benin. Family members I hadn't seen in 20 years could only comment about my weight.
I've been doing a lot of soul searching since I was first (self) diagnosed with a quarter life crisis and although I am much bigger than I was in college I have become comfortable with my body, I do work to form healthier habits but I'm not so focused on becoming a certain size anymore.It's so funny tho, when you are around a group of Africans they can make comments about weight but then make more comments if you are not eating! Bruh! Can I breath or nah! It is rude in our culture to speak to elders in a certain way, but if they could read my mind I may be labeled as disrespectful.
One comment that I've always hated were those that demanded that I look more like my sister. In some ways that made me resent her, as those comments were drilled into my memory she became the standard of beauty that I could not obtain. I was unable to be myself because everyone wanted me to become her. I didn't realize how much that effected me until I went far away for school. For the first time I was able to go to live without anyone ever comparing me to her. It felt great, until I graduated and came back home. The only way that I have been dealing with it lately has been to try and change the subject or just not say anything but sometimes that't not enough.
I need body positivity to also be trending in African culture but until then here is a hair flip for the haters who just can't let me be.