When we were Young Part 2 – by Abidemi Adebola “Sometimes our best love moments
“Be an encourager, the world has world has enough critics already” Dave Willie
I remember vividly the very first time someone told me I was beautiful. It was sometime in 2000 and I had just gained admission into the University, Jambito. Unknown to me I had become the object of affection of a guy in school, he was a friend of my roommate. I had absolutely no idea that he liked me (yes! I was that naive) but apparently every other person noticed he was drooling all over me. Me? little black skinny me? No way! What did he want? Why me? What did he see in me?
These and more were the questions I asked, as she starred on in disbelief. When she finally found her voice, she said, don’t you know that you are very beautiful? I laughed and wondered if she was not aware of how ridiculous she sounded. She looked me straight in the face and said it again, you are very beautiful and lots of guys will surely want to be with you, I was in a state of shock and confusion, and kept wondering if she was referring to me. Other room mates overheard our conversation and chipped in, they laughed at me as they wondered how on earth, I failed to know that I was beautiful all these years. Sadly, it would take more than a few words spoken in the space of a few minutes to erase words spoken to me repeatedly and by those I had looked up to for love and affection.
As a child, I was a very late bloomer, with barely any flesh to cover up my bones, I got teased in school and even more at home. I was surrounded by teases and taunts which ended with me seeking refuge in a shell, my shell, my place of safety and comfort. I spent more time in my room and with my thoughts than I did with those at home. I developed a thick skin to help me deal with the mockery I got for being very dark skinned, for being flat chested even though I was well into my teenage years and for not being hour glassed like other girls my age; and a host of other flaws they saw in me. I gradually began to feel inadequate, to see myself as they saw me ugly, skinny, and black, not good enough, flawed, not worthy of love or affection, I felt something was wrong with me. I felt like a defective product, damaged goods.
To hear someone, say something nice to me was not refreshing as you would expect it to be, it was shocking and difficult to accept as truth. I never expected it, I did not even realize I had a warped image of myself in my mind. These words from my roommate stayed with me but it took me almost two decades to act on it, to begin to see myself as she saw me. I acted on my insecurities for the longest time, I always saw myself as ugly and felt elated whenever I received any attention form the opposite gender. I believed the worst about myself and never accepted compliments. I had so many rules when it came to what I could wear and what I dare not wear, I chose most times to be quiet even when I needed to speak, I avoided so many places, people and events.
I had been lied to and had come to believe the lies I had been fed. You have to look a certain way, your body has to be a certain way, your skin must be a certain colour before you can be considered beautiful, I had been fed these lies and I had grown to believe them. I think more often these issues relate to women and has been caused by society who believes that a woman should look a certain way to qualify to be called beautiful.
When I got married, I was simply glad someone finally married me, kai! I love my hubby but could not fathom why he loved me in return. I would often wonder what he sees in this skinny girl but then be thankful I am sha married. When, I ask him why me? He would go on and on praising the many talents, beauty, and character of his wife, me! and I would just “yimu”. Over the years, my hubby realized I was very insecure especially about my body and he tried to make me see myself through his eyes but just like my roommate, he did his best, but it was just not enough.
Finally, one day, I realized that I was living my life through the eyes of others, I had allowed words spoken decades ago to stay with me and dictate to me how to live. My journey to reclaiming myself did not happen overnight but once I realized what I needed to do, and I was ready to do it. I took baby steps everyday, I did things I was scared to do before, wore outfits I would not dream of wearing before, I went to places I usually shy away from, I spoke up when I would have been too scared to speak. I was happy doing new things for myself, it felt liberating; even though I never realized I was in bondage before now.
My hubby was happy to see me transforming daily and finally into the woman he knew I was meant to be. I love and cherish the newfound me. She is finding herself again and I realize she is still quite fragile, so I guard her jealously.
I have since learnt that we all are beautiful, tall, short, chubby, skinny, fair, dark, and, beyond even our physical attributes lies other qualities which stand us out and make our beauty radiate even brighter. We are all beautiful in our own special way.
Not too long ago, to be classified as beautiful, you had to be fair especially if you are a woman and we had a lot of women, bleaching, oh sorry I meant toning! Now you hear the term Melanin popping, our black beautiful African skin is finally being celebrated, being accorded the praise it has always deserved.
Agbani Darego helped Africans or should I say Nigerians see and appreciate that not all African women will be full figured to fly the flag and make us proud.
I dare say that the main reason some people dedicate so much of their time and energy to ridicule others is because they have insecurities of their own which makes them sad and feel bad about themselves, they lack love, they grew up in toxic environments, they have suffered one form of abuse or another from those that ought to have nurtured, loved and groomed them. The one thing they need is love.
Remember compliments don’t cost a kobo, consider it a seed sown into a life; you may eventually see it grow to become a tree and you may not, but either way you are a part of the good in someone’s story.
Alas! I walk beautiful, I talk beautiful and I look beautiful.
I am beautiful inside and outside and so are YOU
This is the good in my own story.
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