by Onikoyi Falade Babatope
…the argument against fat/chubby/big women is more of an economic than health one.
It’s good to be back, my muse contacted me that I have been forgiven, albeit with a condition. The condition was derived from a sentiment and truth, through an observation of global social landscapes. The sentiment is that being fat, chubby, big as a woman is never culturally wrong. What is true is that we are being mediatised to believe that slim does it for women and that it’s the ideal. The method I would employ in my analysis is gotten from my age long belief that nothing truly exists, everything is created. Its borne out of my suspicion of truth and my admiration of lies. It’s a sociological perspective I don’t want to bore anyone with. Back to the issues we; readers and writers are gathered to digest. If we remember and if we reflect, there was and confusingly is a love for women with “big stuffs”. Men relished big women and in the fashion of the Igbos, the George wrapper can only be fitting if a woman had big buttocks and a sizeable frame. This was the social order in terms of how the female sex was projected, constructed and consumed. One morning we woke up and realized that the tastes of men had changed and switched to slim women. Interesting as it is, it became even appealing to women also. These days everyone, movie producers, music makers, health professionals, everyone in society on a global plane lends credence to the art and science of weight loss and the art of admiration of women who keep to size and who manage to lose weight.
This aspect of our culture has gained much prominence, especially in a country like Nigeria where woman has been constructed as Lepa or Orobo, with the former receiving more admiration and the latter socially relegated and social outcasts. It is so bad that many plus-sizedwomen try all sorts of defence like calling themselves chubby and giving other descriptions that I call sub-constructions. Some just give up and contribute to the gym business and other diet and weight loss schemes. For the avoidance of doubt and relation with reality, I am not supporting unhealthy living. My defence and narrative protest against negative social constructions of fat women is based on the following beliefs, call it conspiracy theories. If we look critically, weight loss industry is a big one. It includes the materials used for sit-ups, thread mills, gyms, certain food categories, and even the apparel and clothing industry itself.
The point is this, the argument against plus-sized women is more of an economic than health one. Capitalists rule through propaganda and tweaking of societal values. They communicate subtly through various means that are conscious or sub-conscious. When you go to the market and hardly find your size and your slim friend has a variety of choices to make, that is a sub-conscious communication that you should adjust your waistline. Then when everyone begins to scold you based on your weight without concrete medical facts other than the one that uninformed people tell them, then that’s a conscious one that has been designed to be so.
My analysis stems and progresses this way; its more convenient and cost effective for a capitalist to produce clothes at a particular size for the market, he needs not make use of large quantity of materials because everyone is fat, all that he needs to do is make most for people in a particular range and few for the big ones. Then media seeds are sown by communication through various platforms that being big is bad. They select slim actors and actresses. They use people that are extra slim in modelling competitions that the whole world sees. Then they use a slim “figure 8” in beauty pageants. Plus-sized women have responded with their own pageants, shops and magazines. You see events such big and bold. Does that say something about protest and re-affirmation of personhood?
The “lose weight industry” is a big one that thrives on media messages against plus-sized people, especially women. You may start to wonder whether the media has such powers. The media has more than that. Dependency theory posits that people depend on the media to make sense of their existence. The funny part is that you see slim housewives and their disgust and pro-weight loss advice for plus-sized women. They usually advice that such women lose weight else their husbands would look out for a slim woman. The ironical thing is that the husbands of slim women look out for the plus-sized women. Sorry that’s based on my inference through local investigation.
Finally, I advocate for a certain level of media literacy and close observation and investigation of sources of cultural change. We woke up one morning and slim women became the leading socially constructed elements of official sexuality. We need media literacy and not jump on bandwagons without probing.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.