It is very uncommon to see anyone placing emphasis on the way a little boy looks. He is not told (or VERY rarely told) to suck in his belly, to watch his weight, to sit, stand or dress in a particular way. Even as he grows through teenage years and adulthood, the way he looks is rarely a cause for concern or worth being a recurrent discourse.
So most men move around confident — confident of the way they look. They have NEVER heard anything is wrong with their bodies.
Even though GQ magazine and a few like it exist, the emphasis is rarely (maybe until recently) on his body parts but more on how he can look more powerful & assertive, how he can win the crowd over, dress for success and look like he has it all together. It’s all suave and style.
On the other spectrum of the gender, women are consistently being harassed by their family, the media, church maybe and a host of others. They keep reminding her she needs fixing; her weight, height, eyes, skin colour, texture . . . EVERY SINGLE THING needs fixing. Worse still, it is never enough.
[WE FORGET THAT] As a woman, her body will go through several *confusing* changes at different phases of her life (teenage, adult, pregnancy, postpartum, post menopausal). So most women spend *INVEST* a greater percentage of their lifetime chasing an ideal body that may never be hers. The rat race never ends cos there is always the next best thing out there.
The media keeps showing you a particular *doctored* image — A SPECIFIC TYPE OF PHOTOSHOPPED IMAGE – of ‘what a woman should look like’ even though only 2% of the America’s population naturally look like that and all women are at different phases of their body changes.
● Pursed lips
● Pointed nose
● Well rounded and curvy hips
● Bust that barely needs support to be upright
● Zero cellulite (even though no one can cure cellulite and every woman of every size has
● Abs of steel even if it means eating cotton balls and being in severe need of blood
transfusion. Sometimes, we shame her for needing a girdle (been guilty).
● She should not be too dark too.
● Slender legs . . .*add yours to the list.
Your family tells you things like — ‘don’t get fat o, no man will marry you’.
I was once told a man won’t marry for my size. I quickly responded that I’m sure the man did not expect me to be starving in my father’s house and gladly he wasn’t. Have you EVER heard that said to a man? I know these are good intention sadly, from a very young age we start grooming our girls to have a very low self esteem albeit unknowingly. It makes sense now why male entrepreneurs display a greater sense of grit and boldness because truly the only issue they are dealing with is how to grow their business. The woman on the other hand is struggling with how she looks, what you think of her hair, her size, her clothes (that she wore two days ago) and her shoes AKA her only shoes.
*Most young men have a pair of shoes and are okay but women no, the pressure!!*
Look at Forbes list, heads of Corporations, governance etc, the disparity is still there. While we advocate for gender equity and inclusion, it’s important to remember the psycho-social aspect of this advocacy. Most women can’t imagine themselves being, dressed or seen in particular spaces because they never seen themselves represented there. It starts with you and I being comfortable with and making space for women of all shapes and
As mums, do better for your girls.
As Dads, let them know they don’t need fixing. Aunties & Uncles, no comparison.
Teachers, no child is more beautiful.
Church & other places where we have coordinators, desist from sowing the seeds of ‘something is wrong with me’ in that little girl’s heart.
Hopefully someday, the media will include bodies of all shapes, textures and sizes.
Until then, be the revolution in your space.
● I acknowledge the differences between men & women.
● There is a big difference between taking care of your health & nutrition and living in a body you ALWAYS believe needs fixing.
Dr. Ezinne Meribe is a Medical Doctor, certified Personal Nutritionist and a Weight
Loss/Wellness Professional. Having successfully overcome being overweight and struggling
with her body image, she now uses her professional and experiential knowledge to empower
women to OWN and LOVE their body and live in it fabulously via her platform Zinnyslifestyle.
She runs a refreshing Facebook community of over 14,000 women- Healthy Yummy Mummies;
where mums can lean on each other while exploring through what a healthy lifestyle means for
them and their families. She understands the influence mums have on the community because
when you positively influence one woman’s lifestyle, you influence her children, her husband,
her siblings and ultimately her parents.