I Used To Hate My Body

One day I was on the beach with a friend and as we strolled down the ocean’s edge, we looked at other beach goers in bikinis and gossiped about everyone.

Of course, we talked about what they wore and the various bodies on display. What I remember about that conversation was when at one point, she said to me “I wish I have your confidence to wear whatever I like”.

I remember smiling and saying, it’s because i have literally stopped caring about not just what people think about my body, but what I think too.

I smiled to myself because that confidence didn’t come cheap. See, I grew up hating my body and what I looked like.

For so many reasons.

I was a prebubescent skinny kid who was molested at 8/9 years old. That was the beginning of hating my body.

I blamed myself because I somehow believed it was because of what I looked like. I blamed myself because the adults around me would always scold me for not sitting ‘properly’ with my legs pressed together. I thought my abuser put his hands inside my vagina because I sat with my legs open and I hated myself for it.

Then came adolescence and puberty and my body rebelled. I grew up too fast. I had to start wearing a bra when other girls in my class didn’t have to.

Then one day I went to the neighbourhood store on an errand, wearing just a T shirt and the store guy stared at my chest with my budding breasts and pressed them till it hurt.

I cried all the way home.

Being a teenage girl who ‘filled up too fast’ in a low income neighbourhood like I did, was not fun.

Grown men stared and made lewd comments everytime I passed, grown women looked at me and made comments about how my breasts were getting bigger because “I was allowing boys to press them”, my mother tore up my favourite brown skirt one day because “it will attract men”.

Nobody ever told me it wasn’t my fault.
I saw everything about my body as an imperfection.

Every other day, my mother would make comments; today it’s my hips getting bigger, tomorrow it’s my stomach, next week, it’s my arms, the comments never stopped. It was always something or the other.

I never used to think I was beautiful either. Even when I became older and i got compliments from people, i didn’t believe them.

Things didn’t change overnight though. I didn’t wake up with an epiphany about how to love my body.

It took a long and winded journey of self discovery and faith to get here.
Yes, I said Faith.

Christianity, for all it’s attendant issues (that I’d rather not go into here) helped open the door to seeing myself as a perfectly created being.

Understanding that I was intentionally created and loved by God, helped me see myself properly and love myself back.

On my self love journey, I learned how to stop internalizing other people’s biases, negative comments and issues.

I learned how to be kind to myself, how to give myself grace and how to see myself exactly how God sees me; beautiful and deserving of all good things.

I learned the power of positive affirmation too. I learned to affirm my body out loud. For me, it was purging my soul of all the negativity I had internalized and accepted.

It took a while, and I stumbled many times because honestly, the world we live in doesn’t make it any easier. Everyday we are bombarded with ‘standards’ on what we should look like, what the ideal body is and why we would be ‘happier’ if we just fixed this part or that part.

My relationship with my body is very personal. She has being through a lot with me and we have grown together. Every roll, every fold, every curve, every dip, every spot and mole is a tangible part of who I am.

When I said my body confidence didn’t come cheap, this is what i mean.

9 Comments

  • Anonymous

    The grace of God. You are whom you are. Courageous and straight forward. I pray the body finds a nice company and stays with the company.

  • Oluwafunmilola Joseph

    Thanks for sharing your story 😊, my story is similar. When I was 12, I became so aware of my huge breasts thanks to people’s lewd comments of how a 12 year old shouldn’t be this busty.

    My mum made it worse by her comments, I didn’t have anyone to talk to and was so lonely, I started tying my dad’s hard towel so tight around my chest hoping it will reduce the size but of course it didn’t help.

    I was a skinny girl with huge breasts, at age 15 all boys wanted to do with me is touch my breasts, not to talk or be my friend but just to touch her breast, some even had bets on it.

    Thank God for christianity and some lovely people I met while growing, I’m now 28, a single mum and beginning to love myself even more.

    😊😊😊😊

    • Fola

      I am so sorry you went through that Funmi. It couldn’t have been easy growing up extra aware of your body because of the internalized misogyny of the adults who were supposed to protect us.

      Thank God for the grace to love yourself now.

  • Anslem Ozor

    I read this with both anger, fear and faith. What would happen to my unborn daughters should they grow up so fast? How do I as a father play a huge role in raising well-bred young daughters? Will I be there to ward off people who’d as usual throw lewd comments? Will my wife, their mother be a better person than her own mom was? Is there a known formulae or template on how to build confidence in young girls as they grow. These and many more are the things I thought of while reading this piece. Brothers, boyfriends and fathers. We needs to do better and be courageous enough to fade other man and tell em the truth ;Stop abusing our young ladies.

  • Anonymous

    My life story is quite similar to this. I used to feel so bad about the way I look not until I stumbled on Monalisa’s Stephen’s page on IG; since then I have been so confident in my own skin

    Thanks Fola for sharing this story

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