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Awala-Ale Mofe: ‘You Have Put On Weight’ is Not a Form of Greeting



I was in a shopping mall some weeks ago. Suddenly, a lady rushed past me. The next thing I heard was ‘wow, long time! You are so fat now’. I did a double take and had to look at her and the young woman she was talking to. At that moment, I felt bad for not minding my business and ignoring the exclamation.

As I went on with my shopping, I thought about how embarrassed the person she was referring to must have felt. However, it also occurred to me that this was not new to me. I have been greeted with that statement ‘you have put on weight’ before but I thought nothing of it. I did ask a friend of mine later that day if she had been the recipient of this greeting before. She said yes and even went on to say that she was not happy about it.

I honestly have not gotten ‘you have put on weight’ as a greeting in a while though. Even when I did get that as a greeting, I do not think anyone screamed it out in a public place. Now I wonder, should I have corrected the person that spoke to me this way to ensure they didn’t do it to anyone else? Have I contributed to this travesty that now counts as Nigerian greeting by laughing or smiling awkwardly when greeted this way?

I am of the opinion that offering a commentary on personal appearance as a form of greeting is tactless. Some other people I spoke to however did not see the big deal with this form of greeting. They did argue that it has been and still is the Nigerian way. They went on to say that they did not feel this was an issue and that it has become popular to protest almost anything. Honestly, I cannot accept that perspective.

So, why is this appropriate content in the first sentence of a greeting? Do you greet someone with ‘wow, you lightened your skin, you are dark, you are skinny? If you do any of these, why?

Have you been a recipient of this kind of greeting? Is so, did you correct the person that greeted you this way? Or, do you feel that commenting on weight, complexion or personal appearance is part of greeting someone?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime


Mofe is a writer and self-taught baker with a growing interest in product photography and she just acquired a Masters degree in International Relations. She is a writer, recipe reviewer and amateur food photographer on ThisBaker I am @This_Baker on Instagram.


  1. Ada_ugo

    April 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I think at the heart of the problem is that Nigerians often have no filter. They just say it as their brain is processing it. No political correctness or diplomacy.
    It’s interesting that you say “offering a commentary on personal appearance as a form of greeting is tactless.” I never thought of it from that perspective, because while I never really see anyone and “greet them” on having added weight, I usually do if the person has lost weight. I think at that point, my awe overcomes other considerations and I voice what I am thinking. But most people (women especially) feel better when you tell them they’re looking skinnier, anyway. So then, is it okay to comment when people lose weight but not when they gain weight?… lol

  2. Patrick

    April 9, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    So true, I have seen this so many times. Loool. See as you don add greeting with their hand gestures indicating the size increment. loooooooool

  3. The Real Oma

    April 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I haven’t because I have always been thin.
    + I currently live in a country where people don’t day such things to others, even when its true, at least not in that manner.
    However, i fear that if I do not start exercising soon, that greeting will be my portion when next I visit Naija ?

  4. Lola

    April 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Greeting someone with; whao you have added weight is inconsiderate and tactless. I hate it and i have mentioned that to my friends.
    We all struggle with different issues. Don’t add to anyone’s stress abeg!

  5. mz_daniels

    April 9, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I once saw an old friend’s elder sister on the plane and when I realized who she was, i shouted ‘you’re fine now oh’ people laughed, she even had to laugh. I had to keep begging her till the end of the flight. I felt so bad.

    • Bea

      April 9, 2018 at 3:18 pm


  6. Liz Bennet

    April 9, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    I was just discussing this with my colleagues this morning. It’s my reality. Most people see me and the first thing they exclaim is that ‘you’ve put on so much weight’. I used to take it personal but what I do say now is ‘It’s a good thing’, or ‘It happens’ or ‘So have you’.
    I have actually put on weight – I moved from 49kg to 52kg on a 161cm frame. I feel better about myself now and have no to desire to revert to my previous size. So even though I feel ok, those comments annoy me because of the manner in which they are spoken..
    My advice to anyone in that situation is that, please tell them that they’ve also become fat. In most cases, the people who say that are way fatter and just trying to make themselves feel better.

  7. Simsi

    April 9, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Lol. Story of my life right now. I have too many stories on this. One girl i had not seen since secondary school, note that this is about 8 years ago and we were not friends while in school. She saw me when she came to my office. The next thing she said was, ”Wow!!! xxx you’re not fat o. In front of a lot of people. She didn’t even say hello. I just smiled at her and ignored her. I was so pissed. I’ve seen so many people that have gotten bigger and i don’t mention it. Cos i know how it feels. The irony is that i’m not even fat. I used to be a uk size 6 and now i’m a uk size 10 – 12 ish. I really love my new figure, curves and all. I feel very womanly and clothes fit better on me. Nowadays, when people say it. I just smile and say it’s the glory of God in my life. I’ll tell them to thank God with me that i’m not where i used to be. No need to take offense again.

    • Simsi

      April 9, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      *now fat

    • Anon

      April 9, 2018 at 5:05 pm


  8. Jummy

    April 9, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    It’s not just a Nigerian thing, it’s a cultural thing. Most Asians are direct like that too. I know many Asians who say it’s common amongst Asians as well.

    It used to annoy me too. Now I don’t even care anymore. My weight has fluctuated my whole life. 8 months ago, I kept hearing “you’re now very fat oh. You need to lose weight.”
    Today I hear “wow you’ve lost So much weight and look so beautiful.” Of course I like hearing the latter. Lol

    I take it as it comes abeg. I can’t kill myself bikonu.

  9. zzzzzzzzzzz

    April 9, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    People tell me that and I tell people as well if I see a remarkable change, Nobody gets offended and I don’t see anything wrong in it. I think it is even more disturbing to say you have lost weight than you have put on weight. People are just trying to tell you that you have changed since the last time they saw you. May be forward but not an insult,

    • le coco

      April 9, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      but why do you state the obvious? and why only weight. I don’t hear nigerians talk about bleaching even though that is obvious… It’s crass and down right rude and you shouldn’t don’t it to anyone..

    • Californiabawlar

      April 9, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Exactly, it is forward. Why be forward? It’s not a good look. Simple.

      I don’t comment on either weight loss or gain. Because I know how hard people work to lose weight, the most you’d get out of me is a ‘you look great!’ accompanied with a smile and wink.

  10. Hanu

    April 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Mine is worse ‘You haven’t added weight yet’, lepa for life… very annoying and emotionally draining to hear…

  11. serendipity

    April 9, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Its better than you have lost too much weight. I used to think being fat was hard, being skinny is tougher. Take this from someone who was bullied for being too fat all her life, now apparently I’m too skinny. went weighing close to 80 kg to about 54kg and these same set of people send me messages of how they liked me better with ‘flesh’ *smh*.

  12. Sapphire

    April 10, 2018 at 9:36 am

    For me, I don’t see it as a big deal if the person isn’t overweight. Sometimes, it means they think you’re now ‘enjoying life’

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