Birthday Musings: I got Tired

Honestly, I find it hard to believe that a year has flown by. Whoever came up with that phrase about time flying and not ticking like a clock is absolutely a genius.

I don’t have a mirror in my house but the last time I looked in the side mirror of a vehicle I boarded, I realized that not much has changed about the physical me in the past years. Save for some hair that fell off here and a little that sprouted there, I look the same way I looked seven years ago.

So, when a secondary school mate messaged me a couple of weeks back that I appeared to have changed much and he doubts that he’ll recognize me again, I laughed. I replied that he will indeed have no difficulty singling me out in a room full of a thousand men. Like everyone else, I will not be able to wear my secondary school outfits again but in my case it’s not because I have outgrown them but rather because they will be too big. Slim fitted clothes weren’t as prevalent back then.

I got Tired

Even though not much change that the eye can see has happened with me, I’m not the same person, I’ve evolved.

As a teenager I got questioning stares and actual questions a lot. People made fun of the way I walk, the way my hands can’t seem to stay in one place when I’m talking and of course my high-pitched voice. I remember I was both shocked and embarrassed when a classmate decided to imitate me on the small field outside of my classroom one afternoon. I was like, is that really how I walk and talk? Like really? To my classmate and other people like that, it was just a harmless joke but it was a big deal to me.

All those years, academics was my consolation. I psyched myself up with the fact my teasers were no match for me in the classroom and were probably just envious. However, their teasing got to me and i became this teenager for which the simplest things of life, the things nobody thinks about and takes for granted became a chore.

Every action became deliberate for me. I had to think about how shrill my voice sounded while striking everyday conversations and more than a couple of times I tried to speak with the deepest voice I could achieve by holding down my chin to my chest. I became obsessed with monitoring my steps while walking, trying to avoid the somewhat strutting pattern that comes naturally to me. Trust me, you do not want to know how demanding this was for me, it was both physically and emotionally exhausting.

Brief relief came my way when I realized that those people who make a big deal about this my supposed inadequacies were those who didn’t really know me at all. People who are indeed close to me don’t have this single story about me, so they rarely make a fuss about it; most of them are even blind to it. But it will take me years to finally come to myself because like you know, it is the approval of those who barely know us that we are often trying to break our necks to gain.

Today, I walk proudly the way that comes naturally to me and I care less about the pitch of my voice. It’s simply not worth it, nobody should have to think about their walking style unless of course they are walking the red carpet. Besides there are lots of profitable things to expend energy upon, why get wasted over such triviality.

I still find myself in one of those awful situations where in an attempt to be real, I’m tempted to start acting fake but I catch myself more quickly these days. I got tired of acting out every move, every action and every word. I got tired of trying to disprove the single story that strangers have about me, it’s not complete anyway.

Back to that mirror issue, the fact that there’s no mirror in my house right now is a solid testament that i have changed. One of the strongest vanities I indulged in while in the University is a daily dose of talcum powder masterfully spread over my face with the help of a mirror. So, if you’re still looking for evidence to decide whether I’ve changed or not, you have it.

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Now That Good (Usain Bolt ) Has Defeated Evil (Justin Gatlin ), Can The Shaming Stop ?

Leave Justin gatlin alone

The men’s 100m race attracted so much attention in the buildup to the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Beijing.  It was dubbed the race between good and evil, the defining 10 seconds for a sport that is perceived to be in dire need of redemption. The integrity of the sport was laid on the shoulder of Usain Bolt, the immaculate athlete and as it turned out; his 6.5 feet frame handled the weight well. He got the win and everything is right again in the world of athletics or so it seems.

I’m a huge fan of Bolt and I’m very glad he won because of a truth, his victory is significant for the sport. Athletics needed Usain Bolt to come through. But be that as it may, I feel enormous pity for Justin Gatlin.

The humiliation and unending evil shaming Justin had to endure in the buildup and even during the Championships is very distressing. Here’s a guy who all he did for the past two years was show up on the tracks winning race after race and setting records here and there. Gatlin practically saved the sport from the obscurity it was headed for in the wake of Bolt’s nagging injuries which rendered him a no show but see what he got in return.

Doping is very bad and unacceptable and we all know Justin was punished for it. A four-year ban at the time he was supposed to peak naturally is a just enough punishment I dare to say; if not he will be not allowed on the track by the Athletics Federation.

I condemn doping absolutely, but until the IAAF comes up with the strictest sanction and that would mean an outright life ban for any athlete caught doping, I think it will be unfair to continue treating one-time offenders like dung.

To err is human, we all commit errors and make mistakes on a daily basis but we move on, don’t we? Nobody should be defined forever by a single mistake they make. How would you feel if every time you show up in a gathering, everybody keeps bringing up your past failure and makes it a matter arising? Surely, you have committed at least a single error in the past, haven’t you?

I am not making a case for cheating here. All I’m saying is that nobody deserves to be ridiculed and disrespected because of their past, certainly not a repentant athlete who has raced clean for more than a couple years and is probably more tested than any of his counterparts out there.

Just for your information, aside Gatlin, two other sprinters in that 100m final lineup at the world Championships are one-time drug offenders too; Asafa Powell, Bolt’s countryman and Tyson Gay. But somehow, Gatlin has been singled out to bear the brunt for all one-time drug offenders perhaps because he was on a 28-race winning streak. I reckon him being unbelievably good raises both suspicion and outrage. 

I condemn the shaming of Justin Gatlin by the media, an error, a mistake; a misdeed should not become the single and absolutely not the definitive story of anybody.

We are humans, we are capable of change, we bounce back and that is also worthy of celebration. However, if you cannot celebrate positive change in an individual, don’t go ahead hating and shaming them at every opportunity you get, trust me, it is hard enough already for them as it is. 

To Snap or not to Snap: What has Self-esteem got to do with it?

I am one of those people who are not crazy about making memories in the form of gigabytes of pictures. In this age of selfie sticks and all, some folks can’t just understand why you don’t want to smile for the camera. They are like;

“Is your phone camera not good enough?”

By the way, the pixel capacity that a smartphone’s camera, both front and rear can boast of, is one of the key criteria for choosing a phone to buy around here. Why buy a phone you won’t be able to take those precious shower, kitchen, toilet, express-road selfies with. 

image

      Credit: digitalinformationworld.com

I’m friends with one of such people and we met recently. When he went through my phone and found it somewhat deficient in quantities of pictures, and I told him I wasn’t just the snapping type, he had just one thing to say. “You have self-esteem issues”.

Why else would I be unwilling to document my everyday life and looks in hundreds of pictures if not that I’m insecure about myself, right?

I can easily make up cases for both sides of the argument.

If I’m to defend myself before my friend, I’ll say it’s the people who snap pictures at every opportunity they get that have esteem issues. Considering the fact that most of their pictures end up online, shared via their social media handles, my argument will fly. Yes, their obsession with seeking external validation will make it fly, isn’t that what everyone that post pictures upon pictures on the Internet seek?

That line of argument will mean that I and others who are ‘strong’ enough not to give a damn about what the world thinks of our looks and won’t be cut in the act of splashing our pictures all over your timeline till you have no choice but to click the like button or post the “awesome” remark should have the most solid self-esteem.

But then my selfie diva friend can counter by saying I am just afraid of the remarks that I might get. That I have the most fragile self-esteem and that I’m shying away from exposure to guard it from falling apart because it will actually take the mildest negative remark to break it in pieces. 

And then the argument can go on and on. 

Left to me, I don’t see why we should be trying so hard to link a simple act of snapping or not snapping pictures to seemingly serious stuffs like self-esteem. I’m not a Psychologist, so that means you will have to forgive me. I know a lot of things contribute to the esteem thingy and there can be different indicators but how about we just pass this off. 

Can we just see snapping or not snapping as a completely neutral indulgence that people can be allowed? 

One thing this type of argument does is to stereotype people, cram them all together in one tiny box and that’s not cool. 

Do you think self-esteem’s got a serious angle to why people Snap or not snap pictures? I’m eager to hear your thoughts in the comment box. 

Black Skin is no Longer Beautiful for Some Nigerians

FOREWORD- It took me a while to settle on what the right follow up post to my comeback post will be but then I finally decided on this. Enjoy

We are not exactly friends like that but we exchange drawn-out pleasantries whenever we meet. We did meet again last week and as he beckoned to me from afar, the first thing I noticed was his skin, it was grabbing more attention than I can remember it has the power to. It was not until he was an armlength from me that it finally hit me, my friend has tampered with his black skin.

What is it about light skin for Nigerians?

Immediately I walked away from him I remembered another friend I met at the NYSC orientation camp in North-eastern Nigeria. Over dinner just after a week into the camp activities this lady told me with a hint of sadness in her voice like something unfortunate had befallen her that her skin had become noticeably darker than it was when she arrived. I was left wondering how a slightly darker shade of an originally dark skin could be such a big deal.

Maheeda bleaching Nigerian celebrities.jpegBefore and after pictures of controversial singer Maheeda courtesy of bellanaija.com

Nigeria’s entertainment industry is the perfect example of how black skin can has been turned into some kind of disadvantage. It appears that spotting a yellow skin is considered a necessity for gaining entrance to and remaining in the spot-light. So, majority of our nollywood actresses have taken to bleaching because according to them dark-skinned ladies don’t get as many role offers as their counterparts.

The music industry is also caught in this trend. Girls with skin the color of chocolate have suddenly lost all appeal and so all the ladies featured in our music videos (and our music videos are all about ladies in different stages ofvundress) either as dancers or backup singers must have skin the color of overripe pawpaw.

Read a very fascinating commentary on the life of bleaching celebrities here by popular musician Etcetera

Even banks have been accused of giving preference to light-skinned ladies when employing into positions that involve contact with the customers like the cashiers and customers care officer.

Bleaching has become a modern trend that cuts across every strata of the Nigerian society. So, it’s not a shock this day to see people proudly posting their before and after pictures on social networking sites like instagram. This is exactly what the guy in the picture below did, a sort of marketing strategy too since he’s a beautician with a specialty in bleaching.

bleaching nigerians before and after

Bleaching today is more tastefully done  at least for those who can afford it. And yes, those who have become proud ambassadors of the bleaching cause and won’t stop gracing our screens with their semi-white covering can afford the perfect treatment. So, gone are the days of stigmatization against people spotting bleached skin because you’re not likely to as easily be able to notice the uneven skin tone and all the black patches that give them away in the past.

It’s getting increasingly harder to make criticisms this day but I find the idea of bleaching shameful, very shameful. And if someone could say that people who don’t Snap selfies often might have self esteem issues (more on that later) I think I will say that bleaching is strongly a self esteem issue.