Feyi Luther: Plus Size Unapologetic
In an Ankara shirt dress, with shadows under her eyes, fifteen minutes till her children arrive, Feyi Luther is still one of the most energetic people you will ever meet. She gesticulates, takes interview breaks to go on Pinterest and before I leave, she shows me her glitter crusted vision board filled with paper dollars and the word fierce and says she hopes to complete it all in a few years. With her abilities, there’s no room for doubt.
A chef, a model and a fashion designer, Feyi Luther, the winner of Face of Yours and one of Nigeria’s few body positivity activists still doesn’t have enough jobs to soak up her boundless spirit. In her signature effervescence, she gives answers to age-old questions of self-love, acceptance and why Nigerians need women who look like them.
What was it like learning you’d won Face of Yours?
I was shocked. Because of what I’d seen previously, I thought they’d always preferred blonde effeminate women. I had short hair, flabby arms, and I really didn’t expect to get it. My friend sent me a message on Instagram that she’d gotten an email that three of us won. I remember I was in the kitchen and I ran around screaming because I thought me?! This girl from Nigeria?! That was one of my best moments.
Have you ever been so happy you cried?
I cry a lot! It’s not an issue, I’m very proud of my crying. But having my daughter made me bawl. When I gave birth to her, I didn’t want a girl, but when she was in my arms, I instantly began to cry because I felt a connection with her.
What made you pull out of last year’s Plus Size Fashion Week Show?
At that point in time, I was at a point of conflict with myself and my weight. I did all the photo shoots leading up to it but when it came to the actual show I pulled out because I wasn’t ready to define myself as a plus-sized model yet.
How do you deal with negativity?
By being more positive to myself because the negativity is not always from other people. I criticise myself a lot but I’m dealing with that now and I’m learning to be kinder to myself. I am also learning I am not the only person in the world that things have happened to, other people have survived and if they have, I can.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty is not skin deep. There are people who are beautiful but inside they’re ugly and they become ugly to me. It sounds cliche but for me; it is really a beautiful heart. Someone who is kind and friendly with an amazing smile and the ability to laugh at themselves, that for me, is everything.
Do you think acceptance is important?
I think self-acceptance is important. It is more important than other people accepting me. If you accept yourself first, then other people are more likely to accept you. I find especially here in Nigeria that when you have confidence people will follow you but if you speak badly about yourself and you’re not confident, then you’re more likely to push people away.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I would like to have published a few cookbooks, have my own TV Talk show, my clothing line will hopefully be in stores internationally and I would be an amazing mum and wife.
Do you think Nigeria has enough fat representation in the media?
No! And it’s such a shame because if you look at media representations of Nigeria from the outside, you’ll assume it is made up of only slim people, which is so far from the truth. Most women in Nigeria are curvy. We have bigger sized women in Nigeria but that’s not what the environment shows and I wish people would take more of a chance on plus-size models. Temi Aboderin and Latasha Lagos are doing a great job but we still need to have more people that actually look like Nigerian women.
What does body positivity mean for you?
Body positivity is learning how to love yourself regardless of whatever size you are or what your body structure is. It is having a positive outlook on yourself: loving your inner self and the outside packaging. It is also external: seeing people as they are and loving people as they are.
How do you feel about accusations that body positivity glorifies obesity?
I don’t think body positivity is about size, it’s about wellness. Also, I believe no one should be too big or too small. However, people need to pay more attention to their health. You can be a big lady and be physically fit, your cholesterol is fine, you are active, and you can be a skinny model and be unhealthy. So I don’t think it’s about size. But I agree that there are people in the body positivity movement who are not encouraging good habits. That is a part of the reason I’ve veered out of the plus sized world.