One afternoon, some years ago when I was still at high school, I was walking home after visiting my grandmotherís house, on the other side of the village.
I was in a hurry because the distance between my mother and grandmother’s houses is quite a stretch. Back then, arriving at home after sunset was the number one infringement at home. Just midway home, I passed by this homestead, a shebeen. Most times we avoided this particular route because of this shebeen.
Loud music, strong stench of alcohol and urine, drunken adults singing, shoving each other, attempting to dance or hurling insults at each other, even at passersby. Unfortunately, this route happened to be the shortest home, and so on that day I had taken the route. Just when I was clearing the shebeen, moving as fast as I could, I passed a man just by the corner of that homestead, leaning by the fence, relieving himself.
Now when you are a child, a girl child for that matter, the one thing you wish for in life, is never to come across that! With no shame at all, the hopelessly drunk man tried to get my attention. I was taught to greet and respect all adults, but there was no way I was going to do this on that one occasion. How do you stand there, look and talk to an adult when they are in a state of undress, relieving themselves? So I walked on.
After realising that I was not going to entertain him, he then hurled profanities at me with a drunken slur. I did not mind, drunks have this habit of insulting and cursing everyone, it is normal.
Then as a parting shot, he made a comment about my legs, mumbled something like I had long legs like an ostrich. Until I got home, the ostrich legs comment was all that was on my mind. A month later, a year later, that thing was still eating me up. As a result, I then started having esteem issues and was not happy with my legs.
At school even at church, I would observe other girl’s legs and the more I did that, the more I started to hate my legs and as a result, I started hiding them with long dresses and pants.
Humiliation is demeaning and crippling. Humiliation is the one emotion that hurts your brain. Humiliation is suffering an insult. If you judge the insult to be credible,
And if you are insecure about your genuine stature, which I was many years ago, then you are more prone to feeling shame as a result of an insult. This is because they give more credibility to what others think of you than to what you think of yourself.
The bad news is, this then results in a fragile self-esteem. Last week, because we are never short of drama lately, another burning highly emotive issue ensued. This time around, it involved one of our sports stars, our female Olympic medalist. Somewhere on social media, a ‘comedian’, I later learnt, had made a comment about her looks, a comment she did not take too kindly to. The issue escalated and got nasty.
The one thing people, especially men, don’t understand is that body shaming still tops the list of all insults you can ever hurl at a female. Twenty years or so later, I still recall that insult thrown at me when I was a young girl, and I still get mad whenever I recall that.
I feel angry not because I didn’t hurl an insult or a stone back, I get angry because for years it ate me up, harmed my self-esteem, and tortured me. It’s only recently that I overcame this childhood humiliation.
The psychological ramifications of humiliation are huge. You feel hurt, foolish, disgraced, indignity, put-down, debased, dejected, denigrated, dishonoured, disrespected, defamed, humbled, scorned, slighted, slurred, shamed, mortified, rejected, being laughed at, I could go on and on!
I am a comedy fan and I get it that in comedy, everything goes. As a female, I also happen to know that females take body shaming very badly. Because we all imagine and see ourselves as these drop dead gorgeous princesses, well our mothers told us so!
So when someone challenges that and worse, in public, it really hurts. The long and short of it is that a lady would rather have another woman tell them that they are ‘ugly’, not a man, because that way, it is never taken as an insult, but rather as pure jealousy!