Fatphobia and skinny phobia; Examining the concept of being you in Nigeria


Conversations surrounding weight is used as some sort of conversation filler.

One thing most Nigerians are known for is making comments about other peoples’ weight when they have nothing to talk about and when no one asks them.

Let’s say they meet an old friend they haven’t seen in a while. They exchanged pleasantries, one thing is certain someone is either going to talk about how someone is fatter or slimmer.

When you having casual conversations with friends. You should not joke about their insecurities or things that they are bothered about like getting a job.

Sometimes our friends bear to get the brunt of our tongue in the guise of jokes. We say such comments we can not make to strangers.

Nosy relatives and neighbors who do not mind their business always got the most comments to make about a person’s lives and bodies.

We all have insecurities

There is hardly anyone who hasn’t felt insecure about something in their lives save for some who are borderline narcissists or have a very positive self-image.

Most of us have ideal body goals that are not in tandem with who we are. Our sense of identity is outside of us. We think if our bodies were like someone else we would be happier.

But they are extremes of these insecurities one is being overweight and the other is being underweight.


The most common is being overweight and in ordinary parlance…fat. Recently another liberal buzz word has come up – fatphobia. Fatphobia means hatred of fat bodies.

This is not just being thick and having a fupa (fat upper pelvic area) but being overweight.

There are negative comments, insinuations and the way people disregard fat people and fat bodies.

Fatphobia is a hatred for fat bodies

Skinny shaming

The goal of people in the West is to be like Kylie Jenner. Our reality is different in Nigeria we dwindle between being too fat and too slim. We are like goldilocks searching for the proverbial porridge that is just right. So we can live up to the standards society has set for us.

Being too skinny in Nigeria is almost a crime. A potbelly is a symbol of affluence. You don’t want to appear as if you are “suffering.”

The society we live in plays a major role in how we see ourselves and the context of Nigerian society is one in which we are searching for the perfect body.

Here is an excerpt from Bodylore, quoting Doy’s book Seeing and Consciousness: Women, Class and Representation.

” When thinking of black women, many envision the video vixen type: big butt, big breasts, small waist but not too small, oiled up, and half naked. Positive images of black women’s bodies are rare in mainstream western media.”

This is not saying that people should not deal with the attendant health issues relating to being too fat or too skinny.

When we make comments about people who in our opinion are too fat or too slim, we discountenance the fact that they may be struggling with these issues and are facing their insecurities daily.

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