I’ve been the subject of being bullied and the source of ridicule jokes regarding my weight as early as being a school age. It didn’t take long for me to notice that I was built differently than the other kids who were in my class. Although I was unbothered, it wasn’t until 3rdgrade that I felt the weight of these comments and later believed the lies. The constant jokes about being a round potato (Bout Patate in Haitian Creole) were topping the charts from school, teenagers from church and occasionally grown folks.
At a young age my mother taught me how to stand for myself and develop a thick skin in this world because she couldn’t be in the playground to fight for me at school. However my thick skin got thin and I grew weak. I stopped eating properly in 3rd grade in the hopes of losing weight. The mean comments stopped for a bit once the weight came off but unfortunately I lost it in a manner that could have put my growing body at risk. But why would a 3rd grader not eat what was carefully packed in her lunch box? Why would she skip her healthy meals? My teachers never did anything to stop my classmates from teasing me and my mother clearly couldn’t defend me in the playground when I grew weak.
A couple of years after the awkward phase from teenage years, body images seemed to be something in the past until it reappeared in my mid 20’s. My weight would ressurface a bit more when I was on the field in the country side with work, dining out from resorts and trips overseas. Between those high and lows of my metabolism, I noticed the differences in the names calling from the ones that I got home and the ones that I never got overseas during the trips. Haitian people weren’t humble at all when it came to commenting the extra weight that I would put on. It may sound all cute and culturally innocent for someone but I’ve HAD it and find it harmful rather than cute. When metabolism was on my side through my workout, I couldn’t pay to find those same people who made fun of the weight that I had now lost.
With the accessibility of social media to the public now, the comments on body images got worse to anyone battling with losing or gaining weight in the online Haitian community. The hideous comments could be seen under pictures of contestants that were running for local or international pageants. Some of the girls appeared to be healthy size 0 but Lord forbid, if they are a size 0 and tan (No I am not touching racial issues but it’s from my observations) they got serious back lash for being too skinny, speculated thoughts were born and they were endless. If they appear to be a size 6 with hips they weren’t exempt from the mean comments either. If pageants contestants aren’t exempt to comments, imagine the comments some of your closest friends on social medias are getting.
Outside from social media there’s dealing with unrequested comments from Taps taps riders; Haiti’s public transportations. Our public transportations are everything but comfortable; no matter how colorful and unique they may look in pictures. Taps Taps are cars made from old pickup trucks. There’s a colorful roof made to be put behind the truck. Parallel benches disposed are made to complete the setting of an average tap tap. The drivers swear these narrow benches can be filled with 7 passengers. Everyone is build differently and when seats are filled with less than 7 passengers, someone who isn’t considered to be a ‘Sexi’ (Someone who is a size 0 is considered to be sexy in my country) is insulted for being too FAT. In the end that person has 2 ultimatums: Pay for that extra seat or to simply get out of the car. It’s unfortunate for me to come to the conclusion that our people are losing their sense of humanity. I too been a victim of these comments when I used to ride and I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t ride unless my car broke down or I had no choice (Go ahead and call me a Zuzu). I can count how many time I’ve intervene for souls who did not know how to defend themselves in front of image degradation of themselves. Rare were the moments where I’d remain humble to a stranger’s body comments to my weight or me in general. You may say that it is a sensitive issue for me and I will say that indeed it is a sensitive issue just like self esteem, mental illness and peer pressure are also senstitive. They are issues that needs to be addressed in our community too.
It’s regrettable that some of our people are not fully educated on the proper ways of talking to their loved ones or strangers. Focusing on somebody’s weight gain or loss WILL not, I repeat will NOT pay your bills. So I tell anyone to keep their “Tu es Jolie mais tu devrais perdre du poids” comments to themselves. (You would be prettier if you only lost weight/Translated from French)
We are unable to filter people’s thoughts or words however we are able to decide how we will let someoen’s negative words affect our mood and our “vibe”. It’s your choice if you want to lose weight to remain healthy and avoid certain diseases linked to extra gain weight. It’s your choice if you want to go to the gym and drops your bests on squats and lifting weights to gain muscles. It all comes down to you making the choices for YOU. We have 1 life to live and 1 body to do it all. Protect your vibe and stand up for what you believe, there’s no such thing as staying neutral.
It’s all Love