The first time I kissed a boy; that is, a kiss that had not been thrust upon me without my consent, I was fifteen in SS2. He was a friend of my sister’s and that made me feel a bit safe. To impress him, I wore a favorite pair of skinny jeans, a t-shirt and of course, one of my many jackets. You see, I hardly went anywhere without a jacket, even in the sweltering Lagos heat. To me, it was more convenient to die of heat stroke than to have any other human outside of a family member see my large, stretch-marked arms. I had the arms that people often referred to as “Iya Amala” arms. To say this contributed to my abject distaste or refusal to engage in sexual relations with any man was an understatement. As a fat girl who had been ‘cool’ with the boys from a younger age, I heard the things they said about fat women who attempted to engage in any romantic or sexual relationships with them.
Even though I knew very well that some of them talked to fat women, I knew they only did it under wraps, in private, and would vehemently deny it if confronted. So, I rationalized that the only way I would feel comfortable kissing a guy was if I knew he was a friend and if he too also felt comfortable with the thought that no one else would know about it.
When *Michael arrived to the gate of my house, he unconsciously let out a hard sigh upon seeing my covered-up outfit. Of course, nobody could deny that I was not the epitome of sexual prowess, but I felt proud that I had at least dressed up nice. After making out, Michael attempted to unbutton my jeans and pull it down. I told him not to pull it down past my knees and I refused to shift from the position I was in, so that he would not see my dark inner thighs. I assumed that this would immediately repulse him. Needless to say, it was a completely awkward session, I was in pain from staying in one place and my lower thighs were raw from my jeans rubbing against them.
Seeing that I was uncomfortable, he decided that we should stop and then we both went home. I agonized for days over every movement, over every piece of my body that he could have seen, even just for a moment. “Did I breathe too hard?” “Did the heaving sound of my body as I laid back turn him off?” “Were my thighs too dark, or my face too fat as he held it during shared kisses?” I agonized about all of these things so much so that I even forgot to ask myself the most important question; whether or not I had actually enjoyed any bit of what occurred. And therein began a cycle of me contorting my body during sexual activity in a way I believed would please people, people who already knew I was fat. I hardly remember enjoying any sexual encounter till I reached twenty-one, mostly because I felt coerced into doing things sorely for the other person’s pleasure.
Now, looking in ‘My Eyes Only’ on Snapchat and seeing nudes or other activities, I feel wowed by how far I have come. I am not thinner, on the contrary I am even bigger than I was at my younger age. My lovers regularly press on my tummy, in fact, I encourage them to because I believe it feels like a third breast. I wear lingerie, I oil up, mostly because I take pleasure in doing these things for myself and I appreciate the thrill of looking in their eyes while they view me in all my sexiness. I am intentional about receiving pleasure, even if orgasm focused. I care for my body in ways that I failed to do before. If a certain positioning, touch, or even person does not feel good, I make sure that it is known. I do not agonize about whether or not I am their first fat woman, or whether they have compared me to other smaller women. Once a partner expresses that they would like me to be thinner, I show them the way out.
Truth be told, liking your body does not only extend into outward confidence. It also changes the ways you treat yourself in relationships with other people. I realize that for the longest time, I was disregarding my needs in favor of others and deluding myself that it was what I had to sacrifice because I was fat. However, I now realize that so many people’s approach to me hinged on the fact that they knew they could treat or give me less. They did not see my body as one to appreciate, they saw it as one to subjugate and disregard once they had their satisfaction. This does not mean that loving oneself completely eradicates approaches from people with terrible intentions, it just means you will be able to recognize these intentions much earlier or have an easier time removing yourself once realization sets in. Loving my body despite society’s stereotypes is hard work, but I have come a long way and I have no plans on going back.
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