Opinion: Be yourself…Rest

by Ololade Ajekigbe

At one time or the other, a couple of people have asked what I thought about the idea of being a celebrity, and if I ever wanted to be one. My answer was the same each time. I don’t want to be a celebrity in the sense of being so physically recognizable that I would hardly be able to buy roasted plantain by the roadside if I wanted to. I want to be known solely for what I do, my craft, and nothing else. I don’t want every Sade, Nnamdi and Hassan all up in my personal business, or thinking they have a right to tell me how to live my life because of some silly celebrity status. I always tell them I want the radio kind of popularity. I want people to know my name, not necessarily my face. Being a celebrity is a burden I am not quite sure I can bear well. The fuss about singer and songwriter, Simi’s mode of dressing is one of the reasons I never crave to be popular.

The songstress whose profile has seen a steady rise since she shot into limelight found herself at the receiving end of criticisms about her poor sense of style. From the far from flattering dress she donned to the eleventh edition of the Headies, to the high school inspired flared skirt she wore for her performance on the Big Brother Naija stage, to the spaghetti strap dress she wore to the latest edition of the AMVCAs, Nigerians, particularly those on social media have been relentless in pointing out Simi’s fashion flaws. And like every other topic that “social media warriors” decide to take on, the issue of Simi’s run-of-the-mill clothes has not only been over flogged, but morphed into borderline cyber bullying.

Can Simi do better with her choice of clothes, especially when she’s performing? I’d say yes. All the same, I think all the hullabaloo about the young lady’s style or lack thereof is exaggerated. As far as I am concerned, it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be. Secondly, it’s obvious that the kind of aura Simi radiates is one of your average girl next door. One doesn’t have to be close to her to observe it. This was further confirmed by someone who claimed to have spoken to her about her dressing. According to this source, the music star declared that she wasn’t interested in being a diva or being perceived as one, and would rather people focus on her music and nothing else. And I dare ask what’s wrong with that?

If everyone believes she needs to get a stylist to style her in a way that is becoming of her celebrity status (just like most of her colleagues in the industry) but the singer herself sees no need for that, why don’t we let her be? How is it so difficult to follow her advice and focus on the substance she churns out? Her fantastic music. The uproar over Simi and her dressing offers some kind of explanation as to why celebrities tend to go overboard in a bid to keep up appearances. While the average adult should be able stand their ground and stave off pressure and influence they don’t want, individuals are different. Not everyone is endowed with the willpower required to be unswayed by popular opinion.

The recent show of shame by a Nollywood actor who tried to claim dogs that didn’t belong to her, and got caught in the process only goes to show what happens when people are under tremendous pressure to keep up with the Joneses. It’s the unfortunate reality of our world today. A world where frivolities…the ephemeral things of life are elevated above substance. A society where a man’s worth is defined by panache and riches. And so when we have stars like Simi who simply want to remain as ordinary as possible in spite of a talent that ensures they are thrust in the public eye, we can’t seem to wrap our minds around why they’d want to be like that.

In one breath we preach that people should be themselves and not bow to the whims and caprices of a society whose values are constantly changing. In the next, we “crucify” those who actually dare to express that same individuality. It is this realization that should make any right thinking person take societal expectations with a pinch of salt. Truth is, society can never be pleased. Society tells you how you should live your life, and when you do that and get hurt or find yourself in trouble in the process, the same society bashes you for not being bold enough to live life on your own terms. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Not many things elicit the sort of peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re living a life that’s true to your person. A life that isn’t dictated by the urge to please anyone, or endlessly chasing elusive inanities that hardly add value. As long as we are humans with hopes and aspirations we will naturally have goals to achieve, however, in our quest for fulfillment we must not lose the essence of our being.

How do people who try to portray what they are not do it anyway? I mean, it must take an incredible amount of energy to constantly strive to live up to an artificial status. To be gutsy enough to shun the cabal called society, and all its appurtenances is a rare attribute, but it’s the only way to be find peace and be truly happy.

In being ourselves we put out a unique authenticity that only we possess, but more importantly we live a life devoid of pretence. And we rest in this truth.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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