Thursday, 28 October 2010


I have a confession to make, and it may leave you slightly disgusted. Read on, if you have the guts. I will be kind of rumbling. It’s about ‘fatties’.

Some background: my sister and I were talking on the phone last week and as usual I asked her about ‘my daughter’ i.e. my niece. After the regular updates, she told me that I seem to have given my niece the idea that fat people are not good-looking. I was a little surprised, even shocked. I actually have no idea when I ever did this. I guess I may have talked about how I don’t want to gain weight in her presence and all, having gained 4-5 kgs (and probably growing-matooke on the regular, but more importantly an increased intake of sausage and milk) since landing here about 2 years ago. Some of the weight gain for good reason. And it’s not like I mind it that much, though I won’t lie and say I would want it to go unchecked. I think some of her ‘learning’ may have come from hearing me and my mum comment about weight, me saying I don’t want to be ‘fat’. To which my mum’s (and sister’s) response is almost always ,”wi mukiigu muno!” (you’re very stupid!). Maybe it even stemmed from some comment I made while watching some sports updates at some point and commented on the sports-reporters size and how it was ‘inappropriate’ for his profession. Like, a sports-reporter should look ‘sporty’, not fat. I don’t know. But am surprised that a 5-year old is able to listen to odd statements and come to a conclusion. And start making comments which would be considered offensive when she sees ‘fat’ people. Fat people, in my opinion, are not even that common in Kenya, our main problem being, well, food security. Except maybe in middle-class urban people who I understand are starting to be affected by ‘lifestyle diseases’.

Recently there was an article on Marie Claire where the writer expressed disgust for ‘fatties’ . The article resulted in an uproar on the internet, with people writing tens of thousands of emails to Marie Claire, some calling for the author's firing. I found this paragraph particularly disturbing: “So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.” I thought it was a little harsh, even misplaced given the fact that I think majority of women in America are large. And that’s self-desribed “...publication that women turn to for information on fashion, style, beauty, women's issues, careers, health...”. Way to inform the women, eh?

The article got me thinking about my own weight biases. While maybe 4-5 years ago I would rarely notice, let alone care that someone was overweight, perhaps due to my rural upbringing, something seems to have happened, and I kinda notice, though I don’t dwell much on it and have never commented on someone’s weight to them or to someone else. I’ve mentioned my own weight gain on twitter, facebook and blogger often. So much so that when Kellie and I met me in September, she said that she was expecting to see a ‘larger person’. I must have been exaggerating. I think any large person or one who has been or is concerned about their own weight would consider it mockery to talk about my weight often, considering that I’m 55kgs, well close to 56 now. So what am I thinking? That I don’t know what it means to struggle with weight I shouldn’t be too judgemental. The term 'Eating Disorders' is something I learned in my Physical Education class in campus, and I must confess I found all the eating disorders ‘funny’ at the time. As in how you refuse to eat? Eat, then puke???. That it’s easy to blame fat people for their weight issues, or even make it sound like there’s a quick fix to weight matters, like diet and exercise. Especialy when I have never tried the former and can’t myself be disciplined enough to practice the latter regularly (remember my skipping rope? It’s been unused for like 2 months, and I haven’t ran/exercised much in as in as long a time). More importantly, that weight is itself a ‘diversity’ matter much like sex/gender/sexual orientation, race, religion tribe, age, name them. And of course, my favourite, marital status. Am learning that you can be as sizist as any other bigot can be tribalist, racist, agist, and in my opinion, maritalist. How, for instance, would you feel if someone said that they find it disgusting to watch people with too much melanin (black people) walk across a room or a street, or do anything at all? Or two a Luhya and a Kamba? Trust me, we would be having a different discussion, possibly with a lawsuit to boot (in America that is!)

Much as I believe that it is within my power to be slimmer if I want to be, I know it’s not the same for many other people. I once had a room-mate who was kind of large, and believe you me, I ate more than she did. She had been above-average size-wise since she was young. I think also that ‘thin’, single, non-parent people should always consider the possibility of having larger kids and think how they would treat them.

What’s your take on this weighty issue? Will you complain next time you are on a 12-hour busride next to someone taking like a third of your space?

I found some fat people out there with blogs that I found interesting. I didn’t even know you could be wrecking mental havoc on someone by regularly talking about your diet. There’s Unapologetically Fat, The Rotund, and Fatties United! Fatties United! tend to bring a bit of humour in their take on fat, like this blog post here. Take a read.

That said, fat people should also be sensitive when talking weight with thin people. It's rude to indicate that someone has an eating disorder simply because they are thin.

Sunday, 03 October 2010

This and That, Mostly Biashara Nyeti

I haven't been to Church in a while but today I caught Rauka on TV. I think it was an OK, TV-friendly sermon. I kinda felt that as much as I believe what the pastor said, anyone could say that, work up a crowd like that, no? Am finding that I want stuff that I can relate to or that is specific, not a 'cookie cutter' sermon. Plus, I don't understand why you need a mini-sermon before people give their offering, and then repeat the same thing in a subtle way in the main sermon. If anything, the Bible says! Give what you have decided in your heart, but not under coercion...or something like that. I'll look for the verse. Overall, if you have the charisma and patience, I think a church is not a bad investment in the long term-just avoid scandals.

Jana we had stuff to attend to on Entebbe road, got a ride there with a friend, then me and the other friend took a matatu (aka taxi) back to town, getting off near the Old Taxi Park. Said friend was going back to work and so I said "Sawa, bye. Am going to look for hair". After the 'shocked' look on his face cleared, I explained that I was indeed going to look for a weave. He said some stuff about women and hair..... his wife/girlfriend is rocking a reddish-hair weave, so am sure he knows these things. Anyway! I walked into Mukwano Arcade and asked for an Afro-looking weave and settled on one that was 100% human hair-apparently. While we were negotiating, an older woman came by and said she wanted the same. Turned out that was the only one available, and out of 'respect', they attendant decided to sell it to "our mummy" while I waited for mine from the next shop. I was pissed and told the attendant as much when the lady had left. That was discrimation right there, though I didn't say as much. Do you know that I've once been at an interrview where one person in the panel asked me about my marital status, because it would help them in their renumeration decision? Anyway (never mind how many times I say Anyway, it's a Kenyan English adjunct) by 5pm, I'd come back to my hood and the 100% human hair fixed on my head. For the second time in my life I had a weave on. Only that I thought I looked like Kajairo's twin, so today am removing it.

Of late if you've been reading/watching news, seems people have given the East African Community idea a whole new meaning. What with this business of stealing kids from TZ and bringing them to Kampala, for whatever reasons? That was in The East African newspaper a few weeks ago. And the couple that was putting disabled Tanzanian kids on the streets of Nairobi at dusk to beg the whole day and bring back the loot late at night? What about the other jamaa who I guess got an order for albino bones in TZ but instead got a live specimen, so decided to befriend an albino guy, and take him to TZ by bus? The killer story is the one involving (Kikuyu, who else, ha!) men caught on tape selling private parts out of a mortuary in Nairobi. Hearing them on the phone, you'd think it was some legit business going on. "Ya mwanamume au mwanamke-male or female? Anotoa pesa ngapi-how much is the buyer offering?". What if that was your hubby and you saw him on TV like that? Well, I guess that would explain why of late your standards of living had improved, eh? What ever happened to people dressing their own loved one's bodies before burial. Seems these days everyone just gives money to get everything done. I know, I've been involved in one funeral this year. That's great, if only you are not burying your loved ones bila private parts, maybe even bila some clothes. Anyway, I guess some people- or their consciences at the least- died a long time ago but they are still walking on this side of the grave.

There are also the 'genuine' stuff that is marketed in dubious ways. Like the Yvonne Chaka Chaka commercial with Lifebouy. Ati it's a 100% proven to reduce cases of illness, yeah? Complete with a coughing kid who I presume will stop coughing once he bathes with Lifebouy. Splash juice also has a way with that 100%. When you see the 100% from a distance, you think it's a 100% fruit juice, but on closer look, it's 100% Aseptically Packed. Excuse me as I go buy my 100% fruit. Sensodyne has a fully dressed dentist that let's you know that dealing with sensitive teeth is a as easy as using Sensodyne. Halafu Pampers is recommended by the Kenya Paediatric Association. Nivea has a way of getting at women. In one particular case in a Supermarket, they had ka-signpost showing the isles where to get all the stuff you need for soft, glowing, cellulite-free skin; fresh fruits and vegetables, whole cereals and yes, Nivea! Me, I take these claims with a pinch of Royco Mchuzi Mix.

Wacha I go buy me some to make me 'the tastiest githeri ever!'. Have a lovely Sunday, people.

PS: 'Biashara nyeti' does not mean 'private business', the same way 'sehemu nyeti' means 'private parts'. It's more like 'controversial business', like 'swala nyeti' means 'controversial issue'