We asked Nigerian men about their experiences being body shamed because of their height.
Here’s what they had to say:
I’m 6’3, but out of my six brothers, I’m the second shortest. Because I was an athlete in secondary school, I was quite skinny, so I got my share of names like “longy”, and “electric pole”. A particularly nasty school prefect once called me “tall fool”. I was also constantly mocked for my knocked knees even by some family members. As much as I hated the bullying, I like to think that it’s what has made me a strong person.
I started growing super fast when I was a child. I grew faster than everyone my age and the grown-ups around me would tell me that I’d be really tall when I grow up. Then when I was in SS1, I stopped growing as fast, people caught up. Family members would ask why I wasn’t tall, some of them would randomly say things like, “And you’re a very fine boy o, it’s just that you’re short” out of the blue. I’ve also had my share of rejection from women who have told me I was not big enough for them. I’m not sad that I’m not tall. I’m sad because my expectations for my height didn’t come to pass because I started puberty early.
I think the body shaming of short men is a societally accepted thing that people laugh about a lot, but shouldn’t be funny. I have been body-shamed a lot, by both men and women, both in playful and serious situations and even though I’ve gotten used to laughing at the jokes, it doesn’t hurt any less.
I once asked a girl out and her response was “I only go out with men and not boys”. I sort of understood that she was taking a jab at my height, but just to be sure, I asked her to clarify and she said, “You can’t seriously call yourself a man at that height. You don’t even have a beard too.” You know the funny part? I’m taller than her.
I don’t see people making fun of my height as body shaming anymore. When I was younger, I used to feel bad about it, but now, I just laugh about it, and genuinely feel no hurt. When jokes about short men fly around, I don’t feel bad. I have a sharp mouth, so when people insult me for being short, I find some flaw in them and talk about it as well and that way, the insult goes round.
My friend posted a picture of me and one of her friends reached out because she thought I was cute, so she got my number. When we eventually met, she acted really weird, like I’d done something wrong. I thought she was shy, so I gave her space and let her be.
A few weeks later, my friend told me that the reason her friend was acting weird was that she thought I was too short for her and didn’t like short men, and that was also why she didn’t talk to me after our date. I think I was slightly taller than her.