This is Ebun’s* story, as told to Boluwatife

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

I’ve been plus-size all my life. My mum has shared my birth story so many times that I can almost recite it now. I was 4.8kg at birth, and she had to get an episiotomy to deliver me. I was the baby that people loved to admire but never volunteered to carry because of my weight.

Of course, I was bullied in primary school. I attended a public school, and the kids were mean. The teachers, too. Once in primary three, a teacher called me “orobo olojukokoro” because I grabbed a classmate’s sweets as a joke, and the girl screamed in protest. My classmates, on the other hand, would call me “Junior Layole” in comparison to our plus-size headmistress, Mrs Layole*.

In secondary school, I became the bully. I figured if I were always in attack mode, I wouldn’t get attacked. I’m ashamed of it now, but I often picked on smaller kids. The stubborn ones insulted me back sometimes, mainly targeting my weight, but I never let them know it got to me. I’m not sure if it was my weight or my mean-girl status, but I never had a boyfriend until I got into university.

I started dating Bade* in 2016 while I was in my second year at the university. I was going through a body-confident streak at the time. I’d just discovered the keto diet, which seemed to be working because I went from 135kg to 123kg within about four months of starting it. Before then, I’d tried different options like avoiding meals and eating only when I was about to faint, which just contributed to me developing an ulcer. I’d also tried to exercise a couple of times, but never progressed past 30 minutes on any activity. I always found jumping up and down painfully awkward with my big body. All my failed exercise attempts were from home because who would endure the crazy looks from people at the gym?

So, when I found a diet that actually seemed to be working, I was ecstatic. Most of my weight is spread across my boobs, arms, stomach, hips and butt. Losing more than 10kg meant my stomach looked flatter, making my curves look more accentuated, so I started wearing clothes that showed off a bit more skin. And that’s when Bade came into the picture.

While we’d always been coursemates, we didn’t really talk. I wasn’t an introvert but hardly made friends because I didn’t want snide remarks or “helpful” weight loss suggestions. But one day, he got my contact from our class WhatsApp group and started moving to me anonymously.

I say anonymous because I didn’t have his number, and he didn’t even use the number that was on the WhatsApp group to chat me up, or I’d have traced it. He just told me he was a secret admirer from class. I didn’t take him seriously at first and would ignore his attempts to start conversation because it just seemed weird. But he’d send me cute good morning messages daily, and I started looking forward to it.

We started chatting regularly, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get him to reveal his identity. This lasted for about two weeks until he finally agreed to show his face. We met up alone at one of the secluded lecture halls in the evening, and it turned out to be Bade. I already liked him at that point, and I felt like there was an unspoken agreement that we were together, so things got quite heavy that night. We made out for hours.

The next day in class, we didn’t act like anything happened. He kept stealing glances at me, and naively, I thought we were in our own world and had our own little secret. When evening approached, he texted me to meet him at another secluded spot, and we made out again. We “dated” like that for about seven months. 

It’s not like I didn’t try to make our relationship public, but he somehow made me believe we didn’t need external validation to be together. I believed him because he was my first, and I was in love. Our situationship eventually ended when someone else from our class shared loved-up pictures of herself and Bade on her WhatsApp status on his birthday. She took them down almost immediately after. I’m sure he also fed her with his “we don’t need external validation” crap. I confronted him, but there was no evidence, so he tried to gaslight me. I just stopped texting him after that, and he didn’t reach out again.

I’ve had two other boyfriends since then, and while they didn’t outrightly try to hide me, they weren’t too pleased to be seen with me. I met the first one right out of uni in 2019, and he was always “helping” me watch my weight. I’d stopped the diets — even the keto because it only worked for a while — and I was at a point where I was just trying to live my life. If I made the mistake of telling him I was craving something, he’d drop remarks about I needed to be craving “gym”. 

For the entire year we were together, we probably only took pictures together twice. But he always asked me for nudes because, according to him, he was “obsessed” with my body. The same body he wanted me to get rid of. One time I suggested a restaurant date, and he said a better idea would be to go on the date to celebrate if I lost some kilograms. I still don’t know how we survived a year together, but I left when it got too much for me.

The next one was in 2021. To be honest, I only got with him because I was feeling lonely and sex-starved. And boy, did he change that. We had sex a crazy amount of times. But go on actual dates? Nope. Bro claimed he was a homebody. We were at it for about eight months before I decided I was better than that.

I’ve been single since then, but I think I’m in a better place mentally. I exercise a bit more regularly now — still from home because I’m still scared of getting stares at the gym. I’m currently around 125kg, and even though I still want to lose weight, I try not to think about it. I dress well, if I say so myself, and look even better. If I show you my Instagram DM, you’ll find several men who want to “meet up”, but I’ve experienced enough to know it’s more of a fat fetish. They want sex, but it’s these same men who’ll drop foolish comments under my pictures. It’s tiring being seen only as an object for their fetish, but I’m over them. They’ll be alright.

*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

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