Plus-size body

There are people, mostly skinny ones, out here determined to hurt the feelings of ‘bulky’ individuals. They are hell-bent on making it look like it’s a bad thing to have a generous body size. Gosh! It’s no longer fashionable to be ‘beefy’ and well-fed. I mean, some time back, being big and ‘bulky’ was a clear indication that you were a person who worked hard and ate well. At times, it was a sign of wealth.

Society has conspired against these hard working, great Kenyans and has created negative stereotypes around them. Some people even use pejorative and inhumane terms such as “fat blobs” to describe these ‘bulky ‘Kenyans. Matters are rapidly heading south, and the obsession with how other people’s look has taken over.

As with many other fads, the scrawniness fad is nonsense, but it has us in its cold, thin-fingered grip so tight that its bones are in danger of cracking. It wasn’t always like this, mind you. Our ancestors evolved on the African plains over eons. During the course of that evolution, which was both social and biological, they created societies in which labour was strictly segregated, and not only by gender.

Reason being, young people have bodies that are still growing and developing, while older geezers have bodies that have settled into a sort of middle-aged ‘fabulousity’. As a result, a younger fella could get a serious injury and overcome it easily with a little care here, a little beer there. An older guy getting such an injury, however, would likely be crippled for the rest of his life.

Extra kilos

With this sagacious observation, our ancestors decided that younger men would form the warrior and hunting class while younger women would run around the home carrying out this or that domestic chore. Meanwhile, the older of both groups would settle back and use their excellent experience and positions in society to guide the community to greater prosperity.

And so, naturally, the younger fellows would be trimmer and thinner than the older guys, and everyone was happy. Indeed, in most African societies, a healthily opulent woman was an indicator of the amount of space she occupied in her husband’s heart. And the size of a man was in direct proportion to his wealth and the respect he commanded in society.

Lyrical pride of place was given to extra kilos of flesh, a thin man, it was known quite well, was also a mean man. And then the White people arrived in Africa. Queen Victoria herself was quite large, round and corpulent, but the emissaries she sent to Africa were the explorer types, who had to be slimmer for them to be able to run away from charging buffaloes and hungry lions.

Need an association

They, therefore, tended to be skinnier. Unfortunately, the African thought all white people looked like that and, in his usual copy-cat style, decided that slim body types was the ideal. All manner of foods we suddenly condemned as being bad. Africans who had been eating meat for millennia suddenly started nibbling on vegetables like deranged goats, scared that a little beef would turn them into walking accidents waiting to happen.

And now, it seems being a bit big is virtually criminal. Middle class types live for nothing more than their next trip to the gym, where they run around on stationary treadmills like idle teenagers.

The insults against ‘beefy’ guys and plus-size women are so dehumanising that they urgently need an association to fight for their rights or rights activists to throw their weight behind them. Or better yet, special MPs to pass legislation that criminalises negative stereotypes against these great Kenyans. After all, unless the healthy guy next door is coming to your house to be fed, why should it concern you that he is ‘bulky’?