My Body Shaming Experience

Tosan, a young woman from Nigeria tells us about her battles with her appearance and how Free Being Me boosted her self-confidence:

I was body shamed as a child. My biggest embarrassment was my lip size. My family, relatives, and peers thought it was a cool joke. They gave me a nickname “KPOMO LIPS” (meaning an animal’s foreskin) and always teased me with it at the slightest opportunity. They always said I was supposed to be cute but the size of my lips made me “very ugly”.

Whenever someone called me that, I always felt suicidal. It was that bad. My self-esteem was crushed. I HATED MY LIPS WITH A PASSION! In the first picture, I’m the girl in the red circle. Before this picture was taken, I rehearsed my “best smile” to make my lip look smaller on the picture. I was ashamed of my lip size.

I read about cosmetic surgery when I was 8. I began to nurse the idea of going for it when I grew up and start earning money. I checked for journals about discounts for cosmetic surgery at that early age. My family, relatives and peers had no idea what was going on in my tiny little mind… Everyone around me had small lips and I didn’t fit in… I wanted to fit in. I was tired of being called ugly. As a result of this, I suffered great depression at an early age. My self-esteem was crushed. I was sinking into an inferiority complex. But everyone seemed not to care as they looked for the slightest opportunity to call me ugly lips. People said these words to me without knowing the impact of what they say to a little child.

I became a Girl Guide and through the programs, I met friends. Girl Guiding made me develop my self-esteem. I had the opportunity to participate in a WAGGGS event and met people. The foreign participants were gushing over my lips with so much admiration. They were like “Tosan, your lips are so cute!…. You have a full beautiful pair of lips…..”  I couldn’t help but wonder what they were admiring. While I looked in the mirror and saw ugly oversized lips, they looked at me and saw beautiful full lips.

The Free Being Me program really helped a lot in boosting my self confidence. These pictures I’m posting here are the first of its kind as I always deleted such pictures because of how my lips looked.

Looking back, from my experience and hearing from others, I realised that we all have been a victim of body shaming in one way or the other either as a child, or as an adult. Dear people, no matter how a child looks, never call a child ugly. Never tease a child about their supposed ‘imperfections’. Tell them you are blessed to have someone as beautiful as them.

Today, I rock my full lips with all confidence to the admiration of others!