You have probably heard the saying that Yoruba men prefer fat women to the skinny women. The emphasis here is on the word fat. This means that being plus-sized is not enough. For them, it is important that their women “have flesh in the right places”. Also, they are known for their preference for older women. But that’s a topic for another day.
In this piece, we are focusing on the hypocrisy that is associated with the preference of over half the population of Yoruba men. If you call this an attack on men by a woman, you won’t be wrong. And if you see it as a tribal sentiment, because this is coming from an Igbo woman, you won’t also be wrong.
For centuries, most women have had to spend their lives with men whom they have no love for. It is either they are betrothed at birth, or they are forced into marriages as payment for a family’s debt. Somehow, everyone else decides what a woman should feel either as a single lady or as a married woman. Everyone except the woman in question. When she decides, she does so to meet the expectations of family and society.
The advent of women’s rights and the movement for equality is what has helped a lot of women. Imagine having to live in this age and time without the freedom to be or not to be. Anyways, some people saw through the gross injustice and spoke up.
Now, women can think for themselves and do things because they want to. They decide what happens to their bodies and what form it takes. But somewhere, I mean, in all of this, there are some women in the southwest region of Nigeria who still suffer. They still have to be in a certain form to be accepted by their menfolk.
Now, here’s what I think. Yoruba men are hypocrites. They make people believe they like plus-sized women but are quick to call them fat at any given opportunity. They call them dirty and insinuate that they stink. When a Yoruba man is involved in a fight with his woman, he seizes the opportunity to make her feel bad about her size. This is what I called Coded Body Shaming.
Have you ever wondered why most Igbo mothers warn their daughters not to marry Yoruba men? It is because one woman will never be enough for the Yoruba man? No matter how beautiful or down-to-earth his woman at home is, there will always be someone ‘outside’. It is their hypocritical nature. Why go for a fat woman, when what you truly want is a slimmer person?
It is no longer news that if you want a Yoruba man to pick interest in you, then you must put on some weight. One woman recounts that her life was an absolute bore with no suitors even though she was ripe for marriage. She decided to put on some weight, and she couldn’t keep the proposals from coming. She wants to reduce weight now, but that would mean that the attention she is receiving would decrease.
A lot of women can relate to this woman’s dilemma because it has been proven to be true in many cases. Many Yoruba men like some extra flesh on their women and they are not ashamed to say it. It is common for you to hear statements like, “she has all the flesh in the right places.”
The shame they force on these women is not as disgusting as the lie they openly tell. A 14-year-old boy from Western Nigeria will not think twice when he is asked what his preference is. Why claim to love a woman whose body you don’t appreciate? It goes to show that you want her body just for the sexual satisfaction being with her gives you.
One man recounts that more than sexual satisfaction, he married his plus-sized wife so she can bear him healthy children. Slim women come and see! Come and see what they’ve done to you. Some chauvinistic men out there believe you cannot carry and bear healthy children because of your body size. They believe that you are good for sex alone and for nothing else.
The stigmatization against plus-sized women did not start today. They were psychologically ostracized and were the subject of discourse among health and well-being experts. For a while, fat women allowed the negativity get the better of them. But now, they know better.
They understand their bodies now, and don’t kill themselves trying to change for anyone. In the African setting, obesity in women is endemic given that socio-cultural practices. Besides, African women have the tendency to blow up after child birth.
Bottom line is, there is no need for all the lies. Yoruba men will have to come to terms with seeing plus-sized women for the virtue they possess. And not just for what they can be ‘used for’.
Everywhere around the world, people are holding debates and seminars on how to change the perception about being fat. Many health talks and seminars are going on to give stigmatized plus-sized ladies a sense of belonging. Yoruba men join the train!
Plus-sized women are adorable and they should never be treated less. Dr. Osita Ibenegbu, Consultant, physician and cardiologist said that “there is nothing wrong in someone being big or obese especially when managed well.” As far as medical doctors are concerned, obesity can be managed to avoid the seeming complications.
Instead of the maltreatment, maybe Yoruba men can take a leaf from other men in the country, and men in other parts of the world. Maybe they can learn to be true to themselves and to the women who love them. If you don’t marry that woman because she is fat, someone else will. And it will not be because of her body size. It will be because of something virtuous and beautiful that you failed to see.