It was a beautiful Thursday evening. I was hanging out with a couple of friends(because the TGIF begins on Thursday of course) when one of them, John, asked if it will be okay with us if he invites one of his ‘colleagues’, Ope, to come join us. “Sure!” everyone chorused as we had been hearing stories about Ope, the new intern at his office, for the past three weeks and we were anxious to meet her. About 30 minutes later, John walked in with a tall, ebony-skinned lady in a short white dress that hugged every curve on her body in a very appealing but not slutty way.

My first thought was “My God, she’s beautiful!” But at almost the same time, I heard “She’s not even that beautiful. She’s just straight and black!” That came from Dare. He is the ‘outspoken’ one in our group that never runs out of words on any issue being discussed. He also has a non-nonchalant attitude towards anyone’s feeling as regards what he says which I find distasteful and never tire of telling him. On this occasion though, everyone was on my side and the general irritated look everyone sent his way after his comment made him uncomfortable enough to ask “What did I say wrong? It’s the truth now.”

Let’s pause the story there. I’m not here to dissect Dare’s opinion of Ope. My question is, “Is it right for anyone to form an opinion on the beauty or otherwise of another person? Who set the benchmark on what it is to be beautiful?”

In this age of social media and freedom of speech, one of the most common things you will find online are hateful comments, mostly masked as ‘personal opinions’, directed at women on issues ranging from cellulite and stretchmarks, to opinions of disgust about a woman’s physical features and the extreme comments of fat-shaming and outright insults on any or all of the above listed issues and more.

Hearing someone bash another person’s appearance not only plays a number on the recipient of the comment, it also affects those around at that point, even if they were only spectators. After Dami’s comment about Ope, I have not been able to put up full-length pictures of myself online because, like Ope, I am not curvy and that comment affected me to the point of me being self-conscious and more intentional with my outfit choices. I can’t even post a selfie on Instagram without zooming in to the confirm that there are no visible flaws that might attract bashful comments.

All of these has led to some women becoming fixated on their ‘perceived flaws’ and developing complexes that have degenerated into hatred of themselves(or parts of themselves). But that is not how life is to be lived. It costs nothing to be loving and respectful to every other woman you meet. We are all going through different battles daily and don’t need the extra negative energy of being self-conscious of our looks. Right?

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