Agenda | Jan 23,2021
Feb 5 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew
Women throughout ages have been adored, criticised, shamed and even objectified for their bodies. Almost all women want to feel comfortable in their skin. But it is a common phenomenon to see women being shamed for their bodies on the streets of Addis Abeba.
There is always something to be said about a woman, whatever her appearance. If she is too thin, she is either sick or going through hard times, so it is considered unattractive and she will be labelled a stick. If she is chubby, she is swimming in comfort; she is told to lose weight. She is considered masculine if she works out often and her arms have some definition. If she has a glass hour figure, eyes are on her, including catcalling or even abuse.
Where should women go not to be bothered?
Not in a public taxi, that is for sure. The other day, I was sitting in a taxi, and an overweight woman walked in and sat at the back. The assistant looked at her as if she had killed his dog. Even after the taxi was at its full passenger capacity, he kept trying to fit one more person besides her.
“There is no space. Where would they sit?” she asked.
He turned and said to her, “it is your fault, you took up all the space and now I can’t fit in one more person.”
The lady was angry, as is her right.
“What do you want me to do?” she said. “Reduce myself to a smaller version?”
He mumbled something but she said, “you better respect me. You don’t even give us change most of the time, yet you have the audacity to comment about my weight. You aren’t the one who is feeding me. You better behave and mind your own business.”
She added, “I am not like other women, I will beat you up and make you swallow your words.”
At that moment, the assistant looked a bit worried. The two people sitting at the front were also shouting at the assistant, “what is wrong with you? You shouldn’t talk to her that way. Besides, it is her right.”
The taxi assistant kept quiet but he kept giving her the eye now and then. Later, when he was collecting the fare, he said to her, “you should have paid for two.”
If they could, taxi assistants would only allow in the skinniest people they could find. They are never satisfied. They do not learn from their mistakes either; they get caught for seating passengers beyond the vehicle’s capacity every time and are always paying fines.
I have heard women being targeted for their weight before but it was not as harsh as this one. It is usually more subtle but less offensive remarks that are made.
It could be, “you look very comfortable, like a cushion, can I sit on you?” “could you carry me?” or “you are taking all the hips of the ladies in your neighborhood, you should give them some too.” There are many other comments as well.
Why do these people make such comments?
Primarily, nobody asked them for their opinion and secondly, they should keep their feelings to themselves.
I am not encouraging obesity or undermining the importance of being fit and healthy, but that should be the business of the individual and they should not be shamed for being overweight or even underweight. They should have a right to walk down the streets without being bothered. As a woman, I want other women to feel comfortable in their skin and whatever changes they need to make should come from them, not somebody else and especially not a stranger in a taxi.
PUBLISHED ON Feb 05,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1136]
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