by WANA UDOBANG Fashion is brutal. That’s what they will tell you. Like Heidi Klum says in project runway, “One minute you’re in and the next your out”. Suck your stomach in and button those jeans, wear those shoes even if your toes bleed. Its fashion, it’s hot but its got to hurt. But for some of us, our butts can barely get into it. Let’s not talk of looking hot in it. I recently scored a gig as the co-host on a make-over and stylish television show and for me it was off to the shops to hunt down some outfits to film what might sooner or later be referred to as my big break. Here the silent drama ensued. We walked into one of those overpriced Victoria Island stores. After trying on a few calico (Tehru) made outfits and finally convincing them that it wouldn’t fit, much to my embarrassment, we all gave up. As a UK size twenty, with a cup size that equates to the seventh letter of the English alphabet plus complementary hips thereabouts in the width of fifty inches, I had given up on being any designers muse a very long time ago. So the likelihood of finding any piece of fashionable iconography to pass my shoulders(décolletage as the Hollywood stylistics call it) in Nigeria is next to nothing. Then I heard the designer lady over the phone asking her suppliers if it was possible to get some designs in a larger size. Somewhere deep down I started to believe the fashion deities where about to have mercy on my chicken and ice cream sins. For a split second, I envisioned a miracle. I had seen a really nice empire waist dress with the chest area constructed out of patchwork Ankara fabric and the bottom half just a layer of floor length flowing chiffon. The belt would singe my waist in, and the gathered chiffon would drape right over my Michelin belly. I would look fabulous in that dress I thought. Then I asked, “Is it possible to get this in my size? Its not for the show, I will be paying for this”. Forgive my shylock fingers but I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty for the thought that I was actually considering purchasing “patch patch” Ankara for over a hundred pounds.(sadly I still calculate from Naira to Pounds to digest how much im being robbed). Then she replied “im sorry this stops at a size sixteen, making it in a bigger size would be stress for me. It means fitting and re-fitting which for me is a lot of stress”. I gasped beneath my breath and my eyes glided across the room, only to be met with a synchronised stare from my director friend Ododo. I thought I was the only one who realised what she had just said until I could read Ododo’s thoughts in her pupils. Telepathically I was receiving her words. My friend was saying “you know you are on full hungry (hustling) and you are not a star yet. When we finish filming this season, you will have small money to be on full gym (excersice), then you will loose some of this your breast and buy the whole shop”. Ododo had a special way of constructing sentences and sadly I had become a huge follower of her lexicon.
A few days ago, I was approached by one of my neighbours who said she was starting a plus size club and she already had over a hundred members. They would be having their meeting over the weekend and she wanted to know if I would be willing to join. She told me about one of her members who lamented about trying to buy an outfit and the designer said she would ruin the figure of the dress. Actually what the designer said was “you will spoil the shape of the dress”. I was still very caught up in trying to foresee what kind of conversations took place at the plus size girls club. I reckoned it would start of like a narcotics anonymous meeting, followed by lamentations of being ostracised by the fashion world. But nothing less could be expected to close the meetings but therapy sessions on positive reinforcement and self acceptance. As I write this, I receive a text invitation to my first fatty girls meeting holding at the Silverbird Gallaria. I wondered what if the Forever Living weight loss merchandisers attacked the fatty girls club with leaflets and purging tablets. I had been a victim of forever living marketers. They were ferocious at it. I remember a lady searching aggressively through a bin for a product prescription leaflet which she thought would help me tremendously. You would think I asked her for it, meanwhile all I came there to do was check my email. They had accosted me at the bank once, and then at the amusement park in Abuja, then there was the herbalist who held a bottle of shrub stems and sap pointing at my tummy then patting his as he repeated the words “go down go down” .As I had to entertain my city over the airwaves on a Sunday, I was unable to attend the fat girls pity party.
We were under a very tight time schedule for production, thus unable to tour all the plus size boutiques in Lagos. Two stores down, so many ugly lycra and jersey dresses later, we were left with no option but my personal wardrobe. Hopefully as Ododo says, I will be on full celeb very soon and I can say goodbye to fat girl meetings, constricted designer wears and maybe just buy myself a designer instead.
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