Voluptuous is the new black. Everywhere, on every platform, via every medium, the curvy woman is celebrated. Now, with each pronouncement and every communication, those lines that influence our subconscious and conscious are telling us to stop, listen and admire she of the bodacious beauty. Icons of curves have sprung out everywhere, from the Jennifer Lopezes to the Kim Kardashians. Here at home, it is clearly our better rounded actresses that get more attention. As Africans, our head start is Nature’s tendency to be generous in this regard, anyway. In the West, plastic surgeons are reeking of cash garnered from every procedure that will enhance the necessary areas on their womenfolk, trying hard to get aesthetically what many African women are naturally born with.

It is interesting, therefore, to see many a fashionista here in good old Naija now changing physiques to resemble the lollipop  all head and no body! Enter the newest, baddest and (in my opinion) wrongest fad  Diet Till You Drop. Ok, everyone knows now that excessive flab, obesity, many rolls of fat and generally being greatly overweight are not healthy and make shopping for clothes a tad more difficult; but this is where there is a veer off.  Fashion mavens are seriously endangering their health trying to force African frames to reduce to sizes zero, 2, 4, and 6. Methinks the aim should be getting healthy and not anorexic, n’est-ce pas? Ladies, can we stamp on the brakes right now? Strangely, words such as ‘Skinny’ and ‘Thin’ are used so positively and fed into our psyches to be The Goal, by all means and any means, that to be anything else but is made to sound ‘substandard’. Almost on a daily basis, someone who was sizeable in stature before turns up magically reduced to such extent as to warrant real worry, especially as this is usually achieved within a really short time. Healthy weight, yes, but almost disappearing? Er.. NO. Outlined below are the three naturally occurring looks amongst us and the sometimes amusing goals of some of the fashionistas who fall within these categories.
Which are you guilty of, wonderful woman/man?

You are naturally slim and your mum used to force you to drink Eggovin (is that drink still being manufactured?) when you were a child, so you would get chubby. You drank Orheptal blood tonic and /or several other liquid tonics, together with copious volumes of milk through your growing up years. You wore larger clothes in a bid to look bigger and stuffed your brassieres as a teenager, when all your friends had significant bosoms. You eat like a horse and gain no weight. In fact, you deliberately seek out fast food, that much maligned food type, in your hopes and bid to put some extra pounds on your bones. As an adult, you stuff everywhere, thanks to technology, engage wonder merchants with wonder drugs that promise miraculous, immediate enhancement, and buy wonderbras that lift, separate, join or generally just asphyxiate. Even when you act like you love being so slim, you secretly wish you ‘had body’ and looked like your size 12/14 friend.

Amazing creature that you are, that body frame of yours is the destination of the Western and now some parts of the Nigerian fashion industry. They bandy words like ‘waif’ and ‘androgynous’ to describe and glamorize your structure and make others who have not your propensity to be slim, starve themselves and undergo life-threatening surgeries just to look like you. This is to your advantage as you can clearly enjoy this industry and even take on a career in it. Your pictures look fabulous and you are made for TV cameras, which put extra pounds on every one already. Lady, love your body, embrace your physique, enjoy your natural slenderness. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet with wholegrains, vegetables, lots of lean meat and natural foods. Exercise regularly to stay healthy, and let your focus be on staying in shape and being healthy. You are an original!

Your dress size ranges from ten through fourteen and you fill out your clothes. You’re always on a diet as you see sizes six and eight ‘just round the corner’. You avoid fried food (even though you love it), don’t eat cake anymore and have tried all types of Teas – from those that made you puke to those that kept you in the loo for hours on end. You eat leaves all the time and have tried all the FDA unapproved diet drugs, from those with Ephedrine to those containing Hoodia, to those ‘guaranteed’ to make your metabolism gallop instead of stroll. Your weight yo-yos with each new discovery you make and you sleep with your scales by the bed, ready for you to hop on first thing in the morning. You are ready to try anything and you usually do, in your bid to lose weight. Your curves are referred to as ‘flab’, ‘rolls’ and ‘handles’ by the fashion industry. You are told you have ‘thunder thighs’ because they don’t look like matchsticks and to you, the word ‘fat’ is an evil unequalled by anything else.

Please, please, stop being the puppet to the strings of those who do not know that your body is influenced by genes from centuries of roundness of your ancestors. Do not dance to the dictates of people who have created medical conditions of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia and Self Mutilation. Simply strive to be healthy. Get to know your BMI, your Body Mass Index  a visit to your doctor will tell you this- and endeavour to stay within this scope. Avoid unhealthy, processed foods, foods with enhancers and colourings and saturated fats. Avoid excessive feeding. Eat your vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and all other members of the balanced diet family. Use vitamin supplements to shore up your body’s store and EXERCISE! Get those joints moving, blood flowing and adrenalin pumping. Your focus? To be healthy, look healthy and trimmed of excess fat, not to look drained and hungry.
Lucky you, the revolt and rebellion of the ‘real people’ like you all over the world is making that same industry have a re-think now. Besides, in my opinion, curves rule!

You really need to lose weight. Period. Not just because of fashion, for fabulous clothes abound for every size, but because of your health. Cut down on the oily foods and  pastries. Avoid sugary foods, soft drinks and confectionary. Stick strongly with healthy stuff like vegetables, nuts, lean meat and wholegrains. Imbibe and practice the art of portion control, which by itself can drop the weight for you significantly. Do this, not because the fashion industry only accommodates your size by adding the word ‘Plus’ to everything about your fashion, but because health is wealth and you do not want to tire out your heart. Do this because you love yourself and value the gift of good health that you have. In the meantime, as you progress on your weight loss journey  because it is a journey and not a quick fix- look fabulous every step of the way!

Our focus as fashion loving people should be great health, first and foremost and then, of course, looking spectacular. Remember, foundation and tinted moisturizer only look good on glowing, healthy skin that’s nourished well from the inside out; lipstick does not look great on cracked or dehydrated lips; hair products and nail polish only enhance what is already in place  the healthier, the better looking. Eyes that are bright do not always need liner or shadow and only look more of a stunner when these are used to enhance them; and a well nourished frame that exudes good health needs the simplest of clothes and color to be fabulous.

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