Nigerians body shame. It is as much a fact about our country as our love for jollof and our tragic government. Body shaming is so ingrained into Nigerian culture that remarks about the bodies of other people is casual small talk, often delivered with no care for the other person’s feelings. We body shame plus-size people in public transportation, at events, even at restaurants and places where people are supposed to feel comfortable to indulge themselves. So when a popular person with means and influence chooses to say something on the contrary, its hard to take them seriously. Take Sound Sultan for instance.
Sure, Sound Sultan as an individual has been quite ‘supportive’ of plus-size women, even going as far as releasing music that praises the body parts of a plus-size woman, elevating them over the woman. In a recent interview with Punch’s Sunday Scoop he was asked about the song, then how well the song aged. This is what he had to say:
“Everybody cannot sing about the government being bad. Yes, we have danced. We know about a girl’s bum– it is big and round. We like it. Except one is pretending, every guy loves a woman’s curves. When I released the song, Orobo, full figured women suddenly became my fans. We can’t be body shaming plus-sized women when we know Africans love them that way.”
There is a lot to unpack in that statement. Not everyone loves a woman’s curves. Just 15 years ago, the global standard of beauty did not acknowledge curvier women. Even now, we only elevate a certain kind of curvy woman, one who somehow has a slim waist and svelte body with exaggerated breasts and buttocks. It is not uncommon for Nigerian men to complain bitterly about wives who gain weight in marriage, and justify infidelity with this excuse. So when someone as influential as Sound Sultan makes these remarks, it helps to trivialize the very real discrimination people who are body shamed face. And I am tired of it.