I’ll be going to visit Nigeria in just under two months and I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t been there in over a decade, and I certainly haven’t been there as an adult, so I’m wondering what my aged eyes will think of the dear country when we land there.
One thing that I will not be looking forward to is the comments that family members will make about my size. I am no skinny chick, and I haven’t been since my age reached double digits. When I was last in Nigeria, I remember family members telling me repeatedly that I was fat, that I had a lot of flesh. It wasn’t a lie sha. I was often compared to my father’s older sister and my mother’s aunt, two very…substantial women, and the commenter would laugh and I would give one of those fake laughs too. I’m sure the first time I was called fat I was probably inwardly surprised at their bluntness but then again, these are the same relatives that always called my sister the “fine one” when we lived in Nigeria when I was very very young. Here in oyinboland, this sort of thing would be discouraged by child psychiatrists because you don’t want to give the child who isn’t as pretty as her sister a complex, or because self esteem is a precious thing that we have to nurture in our daughters so they don’t end up looking to the wrong things to validate their worth as women.
I noticed that with both family members and even neighbours who had never met me, there is no sense of political correctness or tactfulness: if someone thinks you have put on weight, they will tell you so bluntly. They do not care who is in the audience. Then again, this might just be my family…
…though that isn’t true. A friend told me that her sister went to Nigeria and this sister had apparently gained weight while she was abroad. A couple of her friends came to visit her at home and actually told her that they came to visit because they had heard she had gotten fat and wanted to see it for themselves! Are you serious?
Now, while I think some Nigerians are severely lacking in tact, generally speaking, I don’t think their comments are mean spirited in nature. Some just have a bad habit of sharing facts (that don’t need to be shared) without first thinking of how it will be perceived by the person the comment is being made toâ€”or about.
Have you been the recipient of tactless comments by Nigerians, especially family? How do you deal with them?
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