Thursday, May 15, 2014
So yesterday I was in the school locker room changing for the pool. There was a group of middle school girls in there, from another school, who were visiting for a soccer match with our team. I changed in one of the bathroom stalls, not out of modesty as much as out of self-preservation. Groups of middle school kids are loud and chaotic, and I was in no mood to be banged into or yelled over.
As I was leaving the locker room, in my swimsuit, I heard one of the girls say matter-of-factly, "Big Mama". Now, I need to explain first that I live in West Africa. Africans have a far different view of the female body than Americans and Europeans do. I am 5'9" and a solid size 20, and I have never heard anything less than complimentary about my body from someone here, male or female. The girl's "big mama" comment was in no way meant to be insulting, it was more of a general statement. (Ghanaians, particularly the women, have absolutely no filter when it comes to commenting on appearance.)
So, I wasn't insulted, but I was still frustrated. I've gone from a size 24 to a 20, I've got muscles in places that used to be flabby, and I think I am actually starting to look good. Being called "Big Mama" made me forget about all of that and just think about how I am clearly still identified by my size.
So I got in the pool and did my laps and sulked. I hate the fact that the off-hand comment of a 13-year-old can ruin my day, but we're all human.
Then, about half way through my swim, one of my colleagues got in the pool. She works on the other side of campus and I do not see her that often. When I stopped to catch my breath she leaned over and said, "I didn't realize that was you at first; you look so good!"
And suddenly my whole day was turned around.
I know I look better. I know I feel better. And I know that this is ultimately about me, and not anyone else, but it is so nice to have my hard work validated.