WRITER: LEANDA AKUOKO
As a young girl I was overweight and at a young age this didn’t really bother me that much. The native language of twi has a word used to describe heavier people, obolobo and I would often hear it from family members who thought it was funny, but as I got older, and not thinner, I thought more of it. I was bullied in primary school (elementary school) and this is something that had a negative effect on me. It’s mainly because I was your typical teacher’s pet. I asked for extra homework after class, and tried really hard to do well in school, and to top it all off I was bigger than everyone else.
My mother would do all that she could to ensure that I knew how beautiful I was, but she never seemed to get through to me because my self esteem was so low!! My defense mechanism? To try and make as many friends as possible. That may seem strange to you, but in my mind, the more popular I was, the better I felt about myself. I tried to be a kind and good person, but I would be dreadfully unhappy if I was ever alone. I would add every single person I met on MySpace so that it looked as though I really had 400 friends. 400 people who loved and cared about me and were “on my side” but really, I just had 400 acquaintances (if that) who had no idea who I was. In a lot of ways, this lasted until about a year ago. I found myself in a situation where I was alone, all the time and I had to be o.k. with it. I feel as though this was a huge turning point for me, because I realized my self worth, but because of the person I am, it was IMPERATIVE that I did it on my own. No matter how many times people called me pretty; I wouldn’t feel pretty unless I knew it for myself.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m SO comfortable with myself, because of the experiences I had to go through. More than anything I want this for other girls because a lack in self esteem can destroy girls and women of all ages. I think that self esteem issues are worldwide and have been a part of women’s life since the beginning of time. I think that it has become progressively worse due to the pressures imposed upon women by the media, and I am so grateful for this organization that will hopefully help women realize that
they don’t matter
they, being the media
they, being all those voices in your head that say that you are not the right shape.
they, being that ex-boyfriend that never appreciated you.
they, being those mean girls who think that they are so much better than you.
they, being anyone who makes you feel less than you are.
The only thing that matters is how you feel about yourself. When you learn to truly love yourself, only then can you be happy, and I think that only then can you truly love those around you.