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Kevwe Uwisike: Memoirs of the Renaissance Woman

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Let’s be honest, we know that changing the bits of our lives that we are not entirely happy with is such a herculean task. I mean, if it’s that easy to recalibrate our eating/drinking/exercise pattern, how come an average Nigerian woman is described as overweight?

Pause. Think about it.

The beauty and fashion industry has gradually metamorphosed into a consulting industry. Today, they advise us on what to eat, what to wear, how to get fit and ultimately how to be happy. Although it’s obvious we are not turning words to action, we are still totally addicted to reading whatever they have to say. Wouldn’t the time we spend reading this stuff be better invested doing more things that make us feel good and living a bit more recklessly? I’m just thinking. Many experts have had to combine their idea of relentless self improvement with the mantra of cautious living.

According to them, all you have to do to turn your life around is sign up for these 5:

  • Slap on expensive face cream
  • Eat brightly coloured fruits
  • Drink a weird kind of tea
  • Start a diary of your moods
  • Get on Instagram

Once you can activate these 5, experts imply you are guaranteed to cast off your current “overweight/broke” existence and be transformed into a Renaissance woman— one that is well-balanced, positive, fashionably dressed, gorgeous, and with a bit of cash in the bank. However, they refuse to tell us what we should be doing to be happy with less cash and the prospect of unemployment hanging mid-air—but I digress.

It’s important to know that there is deep satisfaction in finding and enjoying small pleasures

Look at this; in the real world, the average sizes of women are 12 and 14 with at least a bit of bulging belly but they are invisible in fashion magazines and websites. What we see splattered on magazine covers are women of sizes 8 and 10 (with bellies sucked in to give an illusion of ‘flat’). Should you see a plus size woman on the cover of a notable magazine, don’t go thinking the fashion houses are extending their hand of friendship. Maybe they are. Time will tell.

Just last month, critics including British TV personality, Piers Morgan, called out famous fashion designer, Victoria Beckham, for casting ‘painfully thin’ models for her runway shows. Piers Morgan’s article headlined “Stop With The Miserable Skinny Models Victoria—This Is NOT How We Want The World’s Young Women To Look.”

Was it always like this? Look at pictures of your relatives back in the 80s; they didn’t have fashion sites or Instagram telling them how to be happy—they just got on with their lives, hung out with friends, lived frugally and put up with their husbands and partners. They ate fufu and eba a lot and had no idea what a superfood was.

I’m not saying life was perfect then – but why are we constantly being told how to IMPROVE our lives today, as if there is something fundamentally lacking-when there isn’t? The other day, my friend, Buba, and I went to Slum2School’s Musical Soiree. The small chops were yummy but Buba refused to have any even though she was craving them. Her reason—she didn’t know the type of oil they were fried with and did not want to risk adding extra calories. I shook my head for Buba who was already slim. (Buba, I love you!)

Truth is, we have too much of everything now—too much information and choice in every department and we want to apply them all. Then there is the pressure to exercise and keep fit. Most gym memberships start in January when you feel guilty about the amount you ate and drank over Christmas and New Year. By June, however, a significant amount of us will have stopped going and by December, about a fifth of members will still be exercising. We practically spend so much a year on gym subscriptions, yet no tangible result.

Every day, we are bombarded with spurious information that gradually builds up in our subconscious and subtly undermines our confidence. Drink Tea and Fight Obesity, they say.

Psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach, wrote a book titled Bodies; in which she claims we now see our bodies as ‘projects, not places to live”. There is so much pressure to conform to unrealistic ideals that many of us think we are physical failures. She says we are at war with our own bodies —and she is right.

This media preoccupation with good and bad foods, the right and wrong way to exercise, the correct and incorrect way to dress, ultimately makes us unsettled and suspect something is missing from our lives, when it isn’t.

Learn to like yourself just the way you are.

It’s cheaper. It’s less demanding.

It’s a lot more fun.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Bevan Goldswain