*Tap or press on underlined slangs for translations*
I still remember details of my first day in the United States, like how the cab driver almost cursed me out because I gave him a dollar bill thinking it was a $100 bill, and how people reacted like they had seen a ghost when they first saw me.
I had a minor eating disorder right before I moved. At just 90 pounds, I was obviously underweight for my height, and borderline sickly looking. So when I first arrived, I got many comments like “OMG you’re so skinny!”. Because most of the commentators looked like they’d put on a few pounds since the last time I saw them, I so badly wanted to say “OMG you’re so fat!”. But Christ in me, and self-control, and all that jazzextras…
Years passed and I aged, and started to like food a little more, and birthed two little humans. Towards the end of my second pregnancy and into the first few weeks after delivery, I developed mild preeclampsia – a condition that causes fluid retention, with swelling in the face, hands, feet, and ankles.
Below are true words that were uttered from fellow humans during that period. I added context after each quote, though they really don’t matter. Inappropriate is inappropriate, and taming the tongue is important regardless of the context. Here we go…
- “You are swollen everywhere compared to Jolade (another pregnant lady), and you’re not even due anytime soon.”
I delivered my baby two days later, while Jolade delivered her baby two months later.
- “What?! Is this you? Your face is swollen, OMG! WOW. I really can’t believe this is you. Anyway, how is the baby?”
This was nine days after my baby was born, and I had to be readmitted to receive treatments for preeclampsia.
- “I didn’t even know you had the potential to be fat. Don’t worry, you’ll soon lose the excess weight.”
Okay, but what if I don’t lose the weight, Ms. potential discoverer?
Are these quotes making you cringe yet? Here are some more fun ones from other random occurrences…
- “You’ve not yet found a man to marry you? Don’t be too picky o; no man is perfect, just manage them like that.”
This was said to my friend who had just ended an engagement with an abusive man.
- “Don’t worry eh?okay? God will do it for you too! Twins!”
A new mother said this to my friend, who had been struggling with infertility, on Mother’s Day last year. No, it is not a spiritual comment; it is insensitive.
- “Why don’t you get your hair done? It looks very rough. This is why no man has asked you to marry him.”
Okay, that progressed really fast. Concerned aunty, that I choose to wear my natural hair doesn’t mean it’s not “done”.
Body shaming is NOT okay. Let’s stop the “o ti add oyou have gained weight” comments. There’s more to a person than their weight. Besides, what if they are currently suffering from low self-esteem because of their weight, and your comment is like adding hot pepper to fresh wound?
Whether a person has one child, or 27, or none, or all boys, or all girls, is none of your business. Please don’t ask “so when is Junior going to have a baby sister?” or “when are we coming to eat jollof at your wedding?” The unhealthy pressure to get married and have kids needs to stop. Focus on planning your own cute little balanced family with two boys and two girls.
There’s so much more than I can list; like how we have become desensitized to other people’s feelings especially because we are hiding behind the mask of social media, or how we talk down to those younger than us because “they no dey sell seniority for market”you can’t buy age from the market. The list goes on.
The good news is that usually, people really do mean well. But that’s not good enough, especially for the woman who is already depressed from not being able to have a baby. As humans, it is inevitable that we will say things that may hurt others; I know I’m guilty. But let us try as much as we can, to consciously consider others’ feelings before we speak.
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29.
I’d like to hear examples of ridiculous things people have said to you. Also, please be kind and share my posts with friends you think might enjoy them.
P.S. For those of your who didn’t know me during my “OMG you’re so skinny!” days, I will be posting my photos at 90 pounds, and right after delivery on my Instagram stories.