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None of our business

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo
23 October 2021   |   2:16 am
The day Tiwa Savage’s ‘Somebody’s Son’ video came out, one of the hot topics was her body – little did we know then we’d be talking about a much different video in just a few days..

The day Tiwa Savage’s ‘Somebody’s Son’ video came out, one of the hot topics was her body – little did we know then we’d be talking about a much different video in just a few days! I remember someone on Facebook writing, “She’s got thick o! Has she had work done?” which was followed with a range of comments on the singer’s figure, including preferences as to whether the commenters liked the singer ‘orobo’ or ‘lekpa’.

This week Glamour magazine ran a story on the worrying trend that is Photoshopping celebrities to make them look bigger in order to normalise plus size. “This first came to my attention when people started sending me this picture of Kylie Jenner, which has been airbrushed to make her look bigger. Perusing the comments on the post, I saw many people praising this new phenomenon, stating that it was a ‘positive’ move as it helps bigger women to feel included in a space where they rarely ever are,” writes Alex Light.

You may wonder how something presented as a celebration of fuller figures may be problematic or dangerous. The issue is when you take a woman like Kylie Jenner, or Jennifer Lawrence who was one of the women Photoshopped in 2015 by Spanish artist David Lopera as part of a series that went viral, it is no different than making a slim actor look fat with make up and body suits, much like Renee Zellweger whose appearance on the set ofl The Thing About Pam, drew criticism as she was photographed wearing a fat suit along with prosthetics on her face to make her appear larger. Instead of fattening up an actor through props and prosthetics, the casting could have opted for an actual fat actor. Instead of celebrating Jennifer

Lawrence or Kylie Jenner fattened through Photoshop, we can actually celebrate the real fat celebrities who exist.
Fatphobia is unfortunately real – so real that we even the fat we celebrate is acceptable fat, the baby face or the hourglass figure that is celebrated all over the world. For instance, take plus size model Ashley Graham… With her perfect facial structure and her voluptuous figure that’s only slightly plus size, she has made herself a name in plus size modelling. What about fat that’s not distributed the same way? Or a face that’s as chubby as the rest of the body?
Tiwa wasn’t the only celebrity who released a much-anticipated video last week; so did Adele with her release of ‘Easy on me’. Of course, we all knew the singer had lost weight over the lockdown period – we got glimpses paparazzi sightings as lockdown eased and a few media appearance. Sand que ecstatic responses, “She looks amazing!”, “How hot does she look?” It is obvious that still the predominant view in our society is you have to be no bigger than a size 12 to look good.

Whether we prefer our women orobo or lekpa is beside the point; the point is our global need in the 21st century to comment on women’s physical appearances, whether it’s their weight or their clothes. It is the same mentality that judges a woman based on nothing but what she wears. How many times have you heard people, including women, justify sexual harassment by asking what the victim was wearing at the time or assuming that if a woman exposes even a bit of flesh, they deserve to be harassed, or much worse.

I once worked with a woman who found it archaic to comment on women’s clothes. It was a strange stance, especially in a workplace where women were always full of compliments with each other when it came to outfits, from the colour of a top to the cut of a skirt. She explained that you didn’t see many men commenting on each other’s clothes. You may argue that men don’t defer too much from the norm of suit and tie to attract compliments but then again, the more I thought about the more it made sense, how little we complimented fellow women on the work they did, but how often we commented on the superficial such as make up or clothes.

We don’t own women’s bodies. It is Tiwa’s business whether her figure is fuller or not, it is Kylie Jenner’s business how short her skirt is, it is Yemi from the Accounts’ business how soon she wants to lose the pregnancy weight, or whether she wants to lose it at all, it is Chinwe’s business how many tattoos she sports. It is none of our business, so why don’t we just stop commenting on women’s bodies? Full stop.