This week, Chiamaka takes a look at some of the things she has learnt navigating the dating scene in Lagos as a plus-size woman.
Let me tell you a little bit about what I have learnt navigating the dating scene as a plus-size in Lagos. I have learnt that most men will forget they like partners who reciprocate (gifts, dates, monetary items) till they meet me, a plus-size woman. I have learnt that even though I am 23, men my age and even those much older expect me to be their sugar mummy for some weird reason. I have also learnt that conventionally attractive women will talk about getting their rent paid, sponsored vacations, having phones, wigs and other expensive items bought for them while I am still attempting to negotiate dinner dates from prospective partners.
For a long time, I felt strange, left out even, because I was the only person out of the women in my immediate circle and on social media that still lived with my parents. Even women that are younger than me were living on their own. I had a decent paying job and other sources of income, so I just could not understand why raising money for rent was difficult for me and it seemed so easy for others. This is until I started asking around and I figured out that men were proactively doing insurmountable things ー paying enormous rents amongst other things ー for the women they actually like while seeking out women like me to be their healers till they are ready to get back out there and meet their next thin girlfriend.
I have learnt that the majority of men that approach me plan to base our entire ‘relationship’, or whatever you would like to refer to it as, on visits to their house. Simple pleasures like dinners, flowers and any other romantic gestures are not reserved for plus-size women. I have learnt that no matter how much I get stared at, none of this attention has proved beneficial towards my life in any tangible manner. I, as well as my other fat home-girls, have had terrible experiences just for the way we look at the hands of men who have claimed to be interested in us while thin women get gushed over and showered with so much, a fraction of which we almost never get.
The dating scene in Lagos is still very much closed off to fat bodies both in terms of representation and in romantic or sexual connections. And while many might bring up the excuse of preferences, people are allowed to pick and choose what they like, what they desire, let’s not all act like people’s preferences ー at least when it comes to these kinds of things ー are not rooted in biases and many’s proclivities for the conventional standard of beauty.
I firmly believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that all plus size women deserve way more than we are getting. As the gorgeous, gorgeous girls that we are, who unfortunately often feel the pressure to bring way more to the proverbial table than our smaller counterparts do, we are led to believe that we should be grateful for whatever we are given, which could be absolutely nothing. Currently, I am presenting my needs to my male partners and leaving nothing out of the question. I will not be bargaining my existence to no end, especially while I know the efforts being made by these same men to other women. I can negotiate freely in queer relationships to the best of my ability, but so far, all I feel is pulled apart in heterosexual relationships that do not serve me.
Plus-size women, do not let people make you feel bad if what you have received is a nail or lash appointment. They might proclaim that it is the ‘bare minimum’ but all of that is just empty talk. Our bare minimum is worth being proud of. Do not be scared to request dates rather than constantly being asked to visit people’s houses. You are worthy of being shown off rather than constantly hidden. Your needs are absolutely valid. Ask away. No remorse, just do so. And if he stops speaking to you, then no problem. You have quite literally dodged a bullet.