Go Find a Mountain and Climb It

Women’s issues have been all over the global news lately. With headlines ranging from the horror of domestic violence to the struggles so-called ‘left over women’ in China, one can’t help but look at herself and ponder her place in the world and what society assumes that place is.

In my circle, the issue of weight and body image has been prevalent in our online discussions. It seems trivial, but my BFFFL, Nana Darkoa wrote an excellent piece about the political implications of being a constant victim of body shaming, which in simple terms is the practice of commenting –rather negatively – on another  person’s physical attributes, particularly if they are seen as “fat”. “Fat” in Ghana, and most of West Africa I suspect, being “fat” is subjective. Generally, anyone who is larger than an American size 2 is considered “fat”. You can read Nana’s article here.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been a victim of body shaming myself on more than one occasion. In fact, while in Ghana on vacation, I was called fat no less than 3 times by both strangers and people I consider friends. I have never understood why Ghanaians feel so authorized to comment on another person’s weight, but there you have it. We don’t walk up to ugly people and tell them how gruesome they look that morning, but when it comes to weight, all tact goes out of the window!

I jokingly said that I was going to start a television program called the “Obolobo Show” that featured fat people doing amazing things. And then it dawned on me a few days ago that “fat people” do amazing things every day!

bungee My husband and I are by no means small people, but we’re relatively active. We’ve gone snorkeling together in the Caribbean. I’ve bungee jumped from Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa– the highest bungee point in the world according to Guinness. I’ve climbed Roberg Mountain and ran down a sand dune with an almost 90 degree gradient. In short, I’ve done things people half my weight have never attempted nor would consider trying!

Enough.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a healthy weight is whatever size and heft you have determined allows you to live your best life. If that life is limited to sitting behind a desk or on a couch flicking through channels or scaling summits at your national park, get your body in the shape to do whatever it is that you want to do successfully!

I’m on a campaign to show that society’s definition of fitness – or its appearance rather – isn’t gospel that must be unilaterally accepted. I suppose the bullying that Governor Chris Christie found himself the target of was part of the genesis of this realization. Having someone who is not your physician declare that you might “die in office” because of your weight is enough to set anyone on edge. I completely understand his firing back at the media and Dr. Connie Marano, who looked into her crystal ball and determined that his demise was near based on the size of his waist line. I wonder if she has counseled our sitting president about his smoking habit? Last I heard, lung cancer kills people too…

IMG_2122 To test my resolve, I drove an hour north to Amicalola Falls to hike up the steps…alone. This is a big deal for 2 reasons: Dawsonville is Confederate Country and I have enough sense to be afraid of the Klan (although if I’m honest I have a better chance of being shot in Bankhead than strung up in the Georgia backwoods) and secondly, I’m scared of heights. But I did it, and it was fun! No shaking!

I’d like to encourage anyone who has considered living a more active lifestyle that you’ve seen as out of reach because your “fat” or “Black” or “poor” or whatever excuse you’ve accepted as prohibiting you from doing it –or having the right to do it – to try. I’d love to hear your stories….and then we can all be on The Obolobo Show!

 

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9 responses to “Go Find a Mountain and Climb It

  1. Wow, you’re really impressive to have done all these things: bungee jumping, mountain climbing etc. The body shaming thing is annoying but what I found helpful is that anytime someone criticizes my body in Ghana, I also criticize theirs! So next time a person talks about you being fat, return the favor (or if they’re too skinny or their skin is bad or whatever, don’t feel bad- tell them!). The receptionist at the office in Ghana where I used to work does it really well. When a portly man told her she’d put on weight, without batting an eye, she replied, “Hmm, I’m imitating you oh! But Mr. Mensah, look at your big tummy are you sure you’re not pregnant?”. Believe me, he never talked about her figure again heheehee!

    • That’s brilliant! Hihihihi!! I used to give it right back to people but I’ve started considering the feelings of others. Time to revert I guess.

      Next time I’m in your hood I’ll recruit you. ;)

  2. Very funny thing I should see this post today. Just yesterday after eating a bowl of fufu with my boyfriend he looked at me and said ” Aku. You aren’t like those girls who say ‘Hmm. As for me I don’t eat cheese, or as for me I’m trying to watch my weight. Or even some of the bigger girls I know who will say ‘oh.I’m trying to watch my weight. You will eat anything and everything.” This is me : ” -__-,that’s not true. I don’t eat cheese. I’m lactose intolerant.” He goes on to say ” well. Do you wish you were slimmer? I mean is there any part of you u wished was smaller?” Me again: well. My thighs could be smaller. And my arms and stomach,I guess.” He says ” oh. Your thighs are perfect “. Me: well. Do you wish I was slimmer?’ “Oh no. I don’t mind. No difference to me. I don’t mind.” “But haven’t you noticed I go for walks every morning. And I’m the hugest fan of. Veggies?” “Oh don’t get defensive. You always do that. I’m just saying you’re only 21″. Me :-_____- .

  3. Hahahaha! I love you Malaka. That is all.

  4. You want me to climb what? Amica … bribi bribi falls … I can’t even pronounce the name self. For why? So that when I fall to an untimely death they will tell my mother that I died hiking in some forest bi with some unpronounceable name? Naw man, whether you are a size 1 or a size 25 when you fall, acceleration due to gravity is still 9.8 meters per second squared. If I die let me die from a heart attack like a normal person.

    • LMAO!!! Oh chaley, me naaa, I even gbaa for the name top. It’s “Amicololla”, not “Amicoloa”. It was the altitude. I conf.

      As for your mother, that’s a different issue. I can’t see her being pleased that you met your demise in the pursuit of these blofosem tings.

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