What It’s Really Like to Be a Plus-Size Model in Nigeria
Plus size model Njideka George is uncovering the difficulties she’s faced in the fashion industry, the lack of representation in the industry. The model has consistently been blunt about her self-perception, with the expectation that she may rouse others to be something similar.
Intensifying the trouble of working under the states of a generic quality, type, and vital corporal control, plus size model Njideka George faced extra examination because of the negative social perspective on fat.
In our contemporary world, the hard truth is that regardless of the number of individuals may claim or recover it — many see the chubby individuals, as been obscene. Furthermore, with regards to fashion, particularly in Africa hefty size normally implies a size 16 or having an hourglass figure — not the full scope of body types that really exist and seldom get acknowledgment.
Only recently have brands and designers begun casting plus size models. But in Africa fashion industry there is still need to push for progress, a need to serve plus size women.
Njideka is all the fashion world requires. She doesn’t adjust to the (figuratively and in a real sense) tight norm of beauty that has been set by society, she’s a good example for other curve size women, who have felt prohibited along these lines, and she’s absolutely legit.
Njideka is attempting to change beauty norms/standard for models over a size 20, the equals between their professions, and why it’s the ideal opportunity for individuals to get over reasoning that being fat and been called fat is a terrible word.
“I hear a lot of things but i don’t care anymore” “I have learn to motivate myself, i have learn to say i don’t leave my life for you, that what i do everyday”Njideka George
These plus size model is prepared to break the traditional translations of their social character by displaying her fat body in order to change the social talk.
Basically, it is this very fortitude to display her body that sets hefty size models Njideka George separated from customary, straight-size models. She shed an entering layer of disgrace and blame developed throughout the years to uncover another, confident self that is not afraid, at this point reluctant to make the most of her size and shape.
In an interview with Naija Fashion Kings & Queen, Njideka talks about subject of body shaming and how it dealt with her emotional wellness, uncovering that – until as of late – she’s been encountering the most noticeably awful psychological well-being condition of her life.
What do you enjoy most about modeling?
Njideka George: I feel like modelling makes me express myself, I get to be who am really am without people judging me, I get to do what I want. You know this is Africa, usually when you are in a swimsuit or a lingerie or something else everyone is like what is she wearing. But when you are modeling they will be oh this is what she does. It reflects a different part of my life that I really enjoy it, something am really passionate about, it is expressive.
How did you get into modeling and why modelling, are they no other career for plus size women out there?
Njideka George: I actually do a lot of other things, I act sometimes. I am trying to get into acting and I run a plus size store. But at the end of the day, you realize that everything is more about being expressive, I like the idea of being able to be someone else, I love to play pretend for a leaving literary. That’s why I choose modelling, it expresses a different part of me like modelling is something I can do for an hour, like I can modelling an outfit for straight 24 hours and not get tired and still be whole energize.
Did people tell you that you should model growing up?
Njideka George: Not really, it’s been more about acting, cause I could recreate several personalities, I could imitate a lot of people. I would watch a movie and cram the whole thing and say everything exactly as it was. So it was always acting, but people that are close to me like my mom and siblings, they already saw the passion. I was so passionate about cat walking, fashion, it has always been it for me, but people from outside were like this girl you will be a good actress.
What challenges do you think you might face or have faced on this journey?
Njideka George: That would be body shamming, people trying to impact their fears into me. They all see something they cannot do. They would be like you are plus size, who told you can do this, you are big, you can’t be wearing this, you can’t do this and a whole lot of things to say. People trying to project their fears into you. That would be like the worst thing i would say at stake.. Body shamming it has been crazy, they will be like oh you have stretch marks, you are too bursty, people just have too much to say about my life and am like it my life why do you have so much to say.
And how can you overcome the challenges you foresee? What motivates you in spite of any criticism?
Njideka George: I feel like being still on a journey every day, it has phases, it’s a gradual process. Four years ago I made up my mind I was going to do me, this is what I want, it has to be all about me. I made a decision to love myself first, I always put myself first. I wouldn’t say I have completely passed that, when I hear a couple of things, it does get to me, but am better now… let be put that am grown.
I hear a lot of things, but I don’t care anymore. I would say it’s a continuous process, I don’t think anyone can easily get pass awful things said about them. Anyone that actually says otherwise could be telling a lie. I have learned to motivate myself, I have learned to say I didn’t leave my life for you, that’s what I do every day.
Every day I see negative comments on my page my post. Sometimes I respond, sometimes I don’t, I ignore, I block I do that everyday depends on my mood for my own peace of mind. I don’t think there is something wrong with that, people most times say leave it, no when you try to mess with my mental health then you need to leave. It’s something I go through everyday. I won’t say am way past it, but am doing better.
What is your body philosophy? Should everyone be free to eat as much as they like and weigh whatever they like, without fear of being shamed?
Njideka George: Yeah, I think people should do what they like, leave how they want. If you want to exercise you have to do it because you want to because you feel it might actually affect your health, I go to the gym, am a plus size. if it something you are not comfortable with, or if t has to do with your health and if you probably want to drop a dress size its your life.
If you want to get bigger its your life. I believe people should just let other people do them. I would never tell anyone you can’t wear this. If you are dark skinned, I won’t tell you to always wear bright color, you can wear black. People try to lead your life they say if you are dark skinned don’t wear dark color, if you are fair don’t wear a red lipstick-no let people be allowed to live, eat, do, how they want as long as it’s what you want. People shouldn’t be shamed for trying to leave their best life. I think it unfair.
Do you think modeling has helped those feelings of insecurity or made them worse?
Njideka George: Personally, modelling has helped me a lot. It has helped me overcome a lot of things, it has taken me to places I only dream of, it has shown me strength I didn’t know I have. For me, that’s a yes.
How do you feel about the being called fat?
Njideka George: Well am fat (smiling). Am not sure I care, I don’t think I care. Initially I was like, I am a plus size model, am a curvy model not a fat model. I got here gradually, trust me it’s not a one day thing. it took me four years. I schooled in the east Umuahia, don’t know if you have heard of Aba mentality, when I dress even if it not short they keep murmuring in Igbo. You hear things like “Emeke lekwa this gal”, I use to get angry, it use to be so frustrating. They call friends, family, neighbors to come watch. Initially I get angry but later on I was like no problem, am now a celebrity come watch tv. I just stop caring.
A lot of plus size models prefer to be called curvy, how frustrating could that be especially for you taking a stand against bullying?
Njideka George: I feel like everyone, including me likes the idea of being called curvy. It’s a nicer way of putting it. Just like when they say someone is thin, it’s easier when you say someone is slim. I feel like when you get to the level that I am in my confidence journey you don’t care anymore. On my bio I wrote plus size model, it is a nicer way of putting it.
I hope everyone gets to embrace who they are, people who try to bully you don’t get the opportunity, so if someone thinks they can insult you, then they are a joke. It all comes down to accepting who you are. Believe me, I have never been tolerating but if you accept who you are it is easier. I hope we all get there eventually.
How best would you love to be called?
Njideka George: Curvy, plus size, fat works too. I really don’t mind.
Was becoming confident in your body a progression?
Njideka George: Yes
Do you ever feel inferior to other models?
Njideka George: I have never felt inferior, I am doing pretty well for myself. Everything is not all about the physical aspect, am intellectually sound, I know what I have achieved. I don’t feel inferior to anybody and nobody can whether its a skinny model.
And to the skinny models, I have never been skinny so I can’t say it’s something I would love, I have always been bigger than my mate even as a child. I have never been skinny, this has always been me. Funny enough, am not sure of other profession thou, when I work with other models, I get to be friends with them.
There isn’t much competition in modelling unlike the acting and music industry. In modelling you don’t see such. Every time I work for a music video, I am a vixen as well, or modelling for a brand I always make friends, there is always connection with other models. For modelling, I have never had a reason to feel that way.
Do you think others feel intimidated by your giant boobs and a tiny waist and big hips, and projecting their insecurities onto you could be some sought of relief for them?
Njideka George: Am not sure, But God bless their soul.
How do you handle bullying, body shaming, fighting to stay in this industry and encouraging others along the way?
Njideka George: I get a lot of messages regarding this. A lot of people call me saying I inspire them and my reply remains the same “you keep looking for people to inspire you, you are on your own. You should be your own inspiration, I made a decision, I had to tell myself, when I decided that am going to me, that am going to wear what I wanted.”
I had major issues with my sisters and my mom as well. Everybody was like what are you wearing go pull it off that and more. I had to sacrifice a couple of things, it might seem very cozy. My sisters use to give me money, they help me a lot when I was school, but when I decide that what I want they stopped and I have to let it go. I can’t leave my life in a way that pleases them, hell no. Even when I am married, when I have kids am going to show off my body if that’s what I want.
I feel like when it’s comes to body shaming or low self esteem you have to be ready to walk the miles. Every decision has its consequence, if you keep waiting for someone to inspire you, well it’s good. But this is what I have to say, you just have to learn to do, you and understand everything has its consequence. You are going to meet men that would “you wear swim suit, I ain’t interested, you are going to meet men that’s going to like you for who you are “
I have lost friends, that say this one is always naked on social media, well I have made friends. That’s the way I see it, I am not saying the new friends are better, but if you feel me expressing myself is going to make you feel like we can’t be friends then am trying to save your mental health. Please do block me.
How have family help, where they of any help doing this period?
Njideka George: Initially it was tough, but currently am modelling some swim suit and my mom is taking my pictures. That’s how much support I get. I only had to make up my mind, I had to take a step. Initially, when I started it wasn’t paying much nobody cares but now. Today I told them I had an interview, my mom was like wow. They get to know that somebody actually cares about what am doing. That means I ain’t mad after all.
This is Africa, where being a model is seen as being a prostitute, it takes an open minded person to know better, I had to help my family to know better.
What is your opinion about the representation of plus-size models in Nigeria?
Njideka George: We are not recognized enough. Plus size modelling has helped a lot of a person’s depression. A lot of fat people are going through so much and no one knows. Nigeria has not been helpful to anyone who is a plus size. You get to be told what to wear, how to dress, where you skirt to reach.
When I was in school, I had an encounter much similar, I had a short dress, it was on my kneel. I had a friend who wore a similar dress, hers was above her kneel. We had a conversation ongoing regarding our dress, she felt she was going to be stopped at the gate because her dress was shorter. Do you believe I happen to be the one they stopped. Obviously she doesn’t have thicker tiles like me.
I went through so much, you will think you are properly dressed, but the reverse is the case. I use to attend a Catholic church, then in school, every day they stop me at the gate. I look at myself, I am actually properly dressed, but somehow it was never good enough. Plus size modelling should be recognize a lot, the world have to see and do better.
I am into plus size clothing, I have customers that come to buy wears, they don’t try out the dress. They don’t care if the wear is beautiful they just want to buy it as long as it fit. They believe they can’t find their sizes, when they go to a particular page they say they have from size 8 to 14, what happen to those that are 16, 20, 22, 24. They just want to buy clothes because oh they finally get cloth that fits. Most times I have to tell them, hold on, look at this dress, do you like it?.
Initially I use to feel bad when I go to the market, I don’t see my size like bra, but then I decide that cloth that doesn’t fit, I move. I feel like plus size modeling should be recognize more. I know a lot of people that get to my dm to talk about a lot of things.
I did a question and answer on my page and someone responded that her fiancé left her because she was getting too fat. When I heard it, I was pissed. I hope we get more recognition soon cause the work we do ain’t easy. Trust me, it’s not easy to put your body out knowing full well you will be criticized.
Would you say fashion Industry in Nigeria has a plus-size problem?
Njideka George: Definitely, I can’t have bra my size, outfit my size. When you actually do, it’s way too cost. Nigeria has a big problem, they all like to pretend they love curvy women because they are Africans. It’s a lie. You cannot not like a fay lady and don’t like big tummy or stretch marks. It is a full package, it comes together. Who are you trying to deceive.
What is the major challenges plus-size models faces in Nigeria?
Njideka George: Body shaming, people trying to get into your pant, everybody thinks you are sleeping with everybody you work for. I am a video vixen as well, I have a particular director I work for a lot… I do get calls like how come he keeps featuring you, are you sure you not…. Can’t it just be that am good enough?.
How where you able to conquer rejections?
Njideka George: I have had a whole lot of rejection. I don’t think rejections are easy to handle, but it happens, sometimes it makes me sick, I get tired. I had rejects where I had to like relax for like three weeks, but at the end of the day handling rejections for me has been easy because of my family.
They always make it easy for me, they make it seem to be that am very, very good, even when I know am not that great. They even went far comparing me to Dorathy Bachor. They always hype me, trying to always put me back in the spirit.
That’s how I have been able to handle rejections. I recently got rejected from a skin care line, I was suppose to be their model. It was difficult, a tough one for me, but I have people behind me, you know they will be like “have you seen your skin, you don’t even need them” things like that.
Many people believe promoting plus size model is as well promoting obesity, unhealthy lifestyle, what your take on that?
Njideka George: We can’t all be slim, just like we can’t all be rich and we all can’t be educated. We all can’t be the same, I don’t think we were created to be that way. I feel like it’s a wrong perspective, we all can’t be the way. Why do they make big clothes, we would have been left naked to show we don’t need to be promoted. Yes, we would have been left naked to show their protest against obesity.
Do you think there could be plus-size market in Nigeria, do you see it happening?
Njideka George: Eventually maybe some day.
Any plus size model you look up and why?
Njideka George: Not really, am much of a me person. I have a couple of plus size model I like, but looking up to people have never really been my thing. Because people always disappoint eventually, so I won’t really say I look up to any but I sure have a couple I like. I see them and am I like wow you are doing well, I like you, I see you.
What fashion trends are you obsessed with?
Njideka George: I love swim suit, if I could wear swim suit all day and everywhere I would. Nothing really makes me go crazy like swim suit.
Image courtesy: 𝘿𝙚𝙠𝙖 𝙂𝙚𝙤𝙧𝙜𝙚
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