Ghana, the Gold Coast, a land filled with its rich culture and history.
My land, my home.
Normally, because of my size, when I mention that I'm Ghanaian in America I normally get reactions like: "wow, you must attract a lot of guys then", or "I bet guys over there are chasing after you.” I sometimes blame this on the movie "Phat Girls" which starred Mo'Nique.
I see that many people have this idea that in Africa, women of a bigger size are much more appreciated. This may be true but, I can't speak for all parts of the continent nor can I speak for the whole country of Ghana; however my experiences are far from this idea.
Anytime I go back home to visit, I am welcomed with one word,
In Ghana, obolo is a term used to describe a larger person,
A fat person.
I'm greeted with this word not only from my family members but strangers outside. As soon as I step out I get stares and that word stays with me all day. Imagine how annoying it can be just hearing how fat you are. Or even getting advice from family members who do not know your lifestyle abroad, advising you to stop eating fast food such as McDonald's.
Ooo Ghana, my home.
Because of this I began to hate coming back home, it did not feel like home anymore. Because of my size I was not comfortable staying there, which made me even more insecure about my appearance. The last time I was in Ghana was 2013, and that time I told myself if I wanted to come back I needed to lose weight. I wanted to come back without being greeted by the word obolo, but a mere "welcome Anita". That would have suffice.
2015 was the year I decided to go back. Not because of my 2013 goal of losing weight but because of the self love journey I embarked on. The last thing I ever want to be is a person who does not practice what they preach. If I am working on loving who I am then the only place that could test my new attitude would be Ghana.
Another motivation for this trip was brought by a blog post I read by Hayet Rida. A post in which she shared her experience as being plus size in Ghana. Reading her post and seeing that there were others who felt the same way I felt, really made me want to go out there and conquer my fear and finally feel free in my body at home.
Nevertheless, before the trip I wanted to prepare myself mentally, especially around the word, obolo. Now if I am able to take comments of me with people using the word fat and obese then the word obolo shouldn't be any different.
This brings forth my question, why do we allow the word fat to be so negative? In fact I am fat, I am an obolo. These words describe my body, my size, but it does not describe me as a person, it does not describe Anita. I am not going to parade around and say I'm "thick" or "bbw" or any other thing then the mere truth, I'm fat. Accepting this and not associating this as something negative is exactly what I needed to do in order to finally feel welcome at home.
December 25th was the day of my arrival and as I sat on the plane all I could think of was the stares I would get but then I kept reminding myself to look beyond the stares. Who is to say that the stares are coming from my size, maybe I'm just that beautiful **wink**. As I finally stepped foot on the motherland, I smiled. Anyone that made an eye contact with me I smiled. When finally getting out the car to greet family members I smiled. A smile that was not suppose to hide any fears or mask how I really felt, but rather a smile that said I'm here just welcome me with love. And I felt great. The hugs felt great and real, not one of those "let me hug this obolo girl". But rather Anita is here.
I spent my entire vacation with this mentality. Loving myself and giving off love. Wearing clothes I was comfortable in not clothes to cover up my body to avoid stares. And finally, being able to wear bathing suites to the beach without feeling embarrassed or scared of hearing someone scream out “obolo”.
For the first time, out of the five times I came back home since moving to the states, I finally felt welcomed.
Sometimes in life, it is our mentality that changes what we see in the mirror and how we view ourselves. Because of the negative thoughts we have stored in our minds we tend to assume that everyone around us is also thinking the same thoughts. There is a chance they are and a chance they are not. However, we can not always live our lives based on the opinions of others and how they view us. It becomes tiring to the point that we lose ourselves while they are still living their own life.
For the first time in a long time I felt at home, because I changed my mindset on the assumption of my body and dissociated my appearance with my personality. Love you and begin living now. When you do that I'll be able to say "akwaaba" which means welcome in twi, one of the many languages in Ghana. I'm welcoming you into a new life, let's have a great year guys!!
Akwaaba, Happy New Year.
Below are some pics of me rocking the cutest bathing suites from Rue107! Apart from having a positive mindset, having bathing suits like these can make anyone feel confident and forget about being called obolo *wink*
Photographer: Dilian Donkor, Instagram @fotografi_by_dilan
Creative Director: Allen Kofi Anti, Instagram @kofi_anti
Also for bathing suits make sure to check out www.rue107.com, Home of Confidence and Curves.
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