Throughout her life cycle, a woman goes through a lot of changes. From puberty, pregnancy, menopause to hormonal changes, all these take place at varying stages, often times lead to change in body appearance or shape.
Given the situation, one can be faced with anxieties that only she can fathom. But society on the other hand might not be on the same page with her. Negative comments can be thrown at a woman without having any regard to what she’s going through.
These insensitive remarks can be hurtful and harmful, especially if they come from close friends.
From being overweight, underweight, too dark, too short, too tall to being pregnant, all these are examples of women who face some form of verbal harassment simply due to their appearance.
Woman brings you interviews with women who are coping with insensitive remarks from people around them that stem from their appearance.
It was on a cool Saturday morning, everything for her husband’s family get-together end-year party was well set at her house located in Mbezi beach, but Miriam Irenca, a 35-year-old primary school teacher, had a deep sadness that she’d been living with for the past five years of her marriage. The loving wife was not blessed with a child, even after trying many times.
As it is with so many other families that are not blessed with children soon after marriage, so many bitter words were already being thrown at her, attacking her infertility status.
The situation was about to get worse for Irenca after her and her husband were asked to host a family get-together event at their home.
“As soon as I got that information I smelled a rat, I knew my husband’s relatives, especially his sisters might try to steal a moment and make a scene just to embarrass me for having fertility issues,” says Irenca.
Before the get together arrangement Irenca would hear rumours about her not being able to conceive. It was never easy hearing the bitter comments, especially considering the fact that her gynaecologist confirmed to her that it would take a while for her to have a baby.
The party was in full swing. Everyone in attendance seemed to be enjoying themselves. However, the children who had come with their parents had started becoming unruly, jumping all around laying waste to everything on their path. When they got to playing with flowers that were beautifully maintained in the house, Irenca couldn’t resist but tell them off.
“I love my flowers and I spend a fortune each month maintaining them,” she reveals. But Irenca’s move of telling the children to stop destroying the flowers ignited an even bigger problem;
According to Irenca, one of her sister’s in-laws approached her and told her to stop harassing the children by stopping them from playing with her flowers. She went ahead and told her they are not happy about her being married to their brother because even after being married to him for five years; she’s failed to make him a father. They further attributed her intolerance for the way the children were playing to her failing to have children of her own.
“I couldn’t stop myself from shading tears. I felt offended and everyone at the party heard that statement. However, none of them came to my defence, including my husband. Though he later tried to apologise on behalf of his sister,” she says.
Insensitive remarks are harmful even when one tries to deal with them; this is according to physiologist Bonaventura Balige. “It is never easy to deal with such a situation because most of the time the negative remarks come from friends, relatives and sometimes co-workers,” he says.
He suggests that if a victim of insensitive comments wants to get over the negative remarks, she should learn to ignore what people say and block all the negativity that people try to throw at her.
“It is advisable that a victim should face the offenders with an honest opinion. She should tell the offenders that she doesn’t like their uncalled for remarks. Let them know that you don’t entertain anyone mocking your situation or making uncalled for inquiries,” the psychologist advises.
Don’t show weakness
Balige further states that it is okay to feel sad about the situation, but make sure you get your own time to cry when no one is seeing you. Do not give them the satisfaction of seeing you weak. Show them that you cannot easily be shaken by their words.
Amina Salehe, 45, is a mother of two children and has been married for the past fifteen years. For years she has been a victim of insensitive comments due to her body weight. People mock her for being thin, saying that she is too underweight.
“Even when I was growing up, this has always been my weight. I have never gone beyond 50kg for more than ten years now,” she says. Salehe has received various comments about how she looks. Some people advise her to gain weight; with others saying that she will never gain weight.
When she was first pregnant, her hope was that she’d gain weight soon after the pregnancy. Some people discouraged her, stating that she will never gain weight no matter what she does.
That was partly true, for nothing has changed until now. The situation has gotten so bad to the extent that some people have started suspecting she has HIV, much to her dismay.
Out of desperation, Salehe resorted to exercising at the gym just to make her body more active and stimulate the ability to eat a lot of food and a well balanced diet for her to gain more weight.
According to the mother of two, exercising didn’t help much. “I had to stop going to the gym. I just decided to resign myself to my fate. The bitter comments hurt so much but there’s nothing I can do,” she solemnly speaks.
Available information from fitday.com says health experts are beginning to explore the idea that people who eat all they want and don’t gain weight are actually more active than the rest of the population, and therefore burn more calories. However, these folks don’t necessarily spend more time at the gym.
They probably engage in a practice known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT may sound like a lofty concept, but it’s actually quite simple all physical activity aside from regimented workouts counts. When you stand up and pace while talking on the phone, chop cabbage for dinner or even twiddle your thumbs sitting at your desk, you are engaging in NEAT.
To some, negative comments are not particularly aimed at how they look, but rather their social lifestyle.
Praxeda Lameck, 30, a University of Dar es Salaam student as well as a bank teller has had to withstand pressure to get married. At her age, her parents, relatives and friends keep asking her why she’s not married yet.
The question has become so rampart now, one she faces everywhere. It has reached a stage where she avoids family gatherings just to steer clear of the nagging question about her personal life.
When faced with such a situation, Balige says if the offenders are the people you see everyday, then you should embolden your feelings by shielding the extent to which their comments hurt you. “you should appear to be strong in front of their eyes, this might help them stay clear of the matter,” he advises, adding; “focus on being kind to them doing simple things like smiling at them. Try to wear their shoes and think that they might have their own issues which they cannot handle and instead of focusing on their issues they divert attention to your situation just to justify their own problems,” says Balige.