I have always viewed myself as imperfect since as far as I can remember. When I was much younger, I always felt out of place in an unspoken way. There was nothing special about me that made me noticeable, and I was very shy and unusually quiet. I wouldn’t say I was really body shamed at that time but most people generally called me ‘thin’, or ‘ojugo’ (because I’m bespectacled). I remember sometime in Primary 3, my teacher had placed me on one of the seats at the back of the class. I had gotten tired of the ‘four eyes’ torture from the other kids and stopped wearing my glasses. I found it so difficult to see anything on the board but I was too scared to call my class teacher’s attention to it. I remember having strong feelings of not wanting to go to school for this reason. It became worse because it was at that time we were being taught how to tell the time. My teacher would draw all sorts of shapes and input the hands along with the numbers in the clock but I couldn’t make out any sense of what was drawn. I couldn’t see a damn thing and neither could I summon the courage to speak to anyone about this problem. Somehow the only thing I knew was ‘1 o’clock’, ‘3 o’clock’, ‘5 o’clock…’ basically just the ‘o’clocks’. This went on till primary 6 until my mother found out and taught me the time herself. We later discovered my eyesight had gotten so poor that we were advised to undergo a surgery.
I remember using a friend’s body cream in SS1 because my Pears body lotion had finished. I never properly knew what bleaching creams were or the effects of skin lightening products. Just wanted to apply lotion and head off for morning prep. I used Blessing’s body lotion on one fateful day and then after a couple of days, I noticed some funny marks on my left shoulder. Stretch marks. I felt so ashamed. Of all places? My shoulder?? What??! I remember feeling the need to hide them. Oh. How I detested tank tops or any top that exposed my stretch marks for years. I’d give reasons why they weren’t nice clothes or didn’t fit me or something flimsy to anyone who cared to listen but deep down I secretly admired those clothes from afar.
Over the years, when people see my hands and arms, they’d always ask what happened to my skin. “Did hot water pour on your hands?”, “Did hot oil pour on you?” “Why do you have those white spots on your body?”. These were the usual flow their questions would come. “My dad is light and I’m the darkness in my house”, I’d always respond. This particular skin imperfection never really bothered me until November 2019 at work. I’d requested for the service of a colleague to help fix some technical issue on my system and while this was going on, he said “Why do you have all these eczemas on your hands? Is it that you don’t ‘baff’ well?” I felt so mad.. so angry. Of course, I knew it wasn’t eczema but the thought that he had made that conclusion was what got to me. I remember feeling sad for the rest of the day.
Today, I have worn over 25 recommended glasses, earned myself more beautiful stretch marks around my breasts, waist, thighs, butt and legs. I’ve also come to really appreciate my ‘faux eczema’ hands because all of these imperfections are what makes me who I am: unique in every sense of the word, and most importantly because I don’t care about them anymore. I have discovered Jesus and the love we both share is so big and intoxicating for me to be worrying about what some person(s) say about my body/skin defects. If God accepts me then who are you to body-shame me?