I have strong admiration for the talented duo of Aki and Pawpaw, who flex their unique size in the world of entertainment to become national celebrities
As one very passionate about issues of the feminine gender, the International Day of the Girl Child, globally marked annually on October 11, is special for me, given that I have first-hand experience of swimming against the tide in a deeply entrenched patriarchal society. My attitude to the theme for this year, ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce,’ was, as we say in Nigerian parlance, ‘no shaking’. After all, the World Tech Champions from Onitsha have demonstrated capacity to take centre stage even in the male dominated technology world.
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Capacity has never been the issue for women; opportunity to demonstrate God given skills is the major challenge facing the girl-child. Predictably emphasis in this part was on the plight of girls, calling to mind the Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu, the lone Dapchi schoolgirl and others in captivity while the nation waited with bated breath as the deadline for the ransom payment for aid workers held in captivity drew ominously close. The gruesome execution of Hauwa Mohammed Liman, a 24-year-old nurse who was abducted when the terrorists of the splinter ISWA group, overran a military base in Maiduguri in March this year, threw the entire nation into unbelievable grief. This write-up is in recognition of the indomitable spirit of Hauwa, Leah Sharibu and countless other heroines who trudge on in spite of mounting barriers against the girl-child.
Etiquette is about human relationships. Like all elements of existence they evolve, improve, deteriorate and even die off. Some people improve you while others hurt you and do unsavoury things to you, which may scar you for life. But guess what! Everyone is in your life for a reason. The story of 11-year-old Kheris Rogers, who stormed the New York Fashion Week 2017 as the youngest designer, caught my attention in preparation for the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child 2018. I read about the world’s youngest fashion designer who shot to fame due to the cruel bullying she received over her skin colour. It hurt for a while, but she turned it around, creating her clothing line, Flexing My Skin Colour, which was birthed in pain. The hostile relationship drove a creative instinct to keep her solely in the driver’s seat of the trajectory of her life.
A major competitive advantage of etiquette is that it provides a guide on how to respond to every situation, whether pleasant or otherwise. Whereas the natural instinct is to respond in similar fashion to any form of debasement, civility shields the respondent from any form of incivility by demonstrating uncommon conventionality.
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My foray into public speaking was in defiance of endless taunts by schoolmates who nicknamed me ‘tweeter’ in secondary school. Given that tweeter is a component in a speaker box, I had difficulty comprehending the rationale behind such a label. After several agonizing hours in front of the mirror examining my dental make up and wondering why ‘each time you speak, all we hear is the sssss sound’ as a classmate who took pity on me informed me, I ran to my mother. ‘Tell them that is the way God made your teeth,’ was her advice with a note of finality. Emboldened by the assurance that the Almighty specially crafted my teeth, I faced my tormentors going from one reading competition to another, from school debates to public speaking. Did I just flex my teeth!
Etiquette puts you firmly in charge of any situation, effectively positions one to operate from a higher plane, which paints a positive picture of every circumstance. This is because you have added advantage of emotional intelligence that guarantees desired outcome. For anybody wired to a courteous behavior, the likelihood of trading deportment or being consumed by negativity is very minimal. I have strong admiration for the highly talented duo of Aki and Pawpaw, who flex their unique size in the world of entertainment to become national celebrities. Undoubtedly, at some point they were the butt of crude jokes and very callous remarks, which had driven peers to suicide in extreme cases. Body shaming met its Waterloo in plus-size models who enjoy as much fame as the conventional counterparts for the simple reason that the status quo was challenged when they resisted stereotypes of body form.
To all the girls who still wallow in self pity, struggling with low self esteem, or building up a vault filled with hatred and animosity against their traducers, take heed to the admonition of Kheris Rogers, ‘Don’t let no one tell you different. You are beautiful in your own way’. To be very honest, the beautiful ones have been born, just look in the mirror.
Confidently match-up against negative stereotypes that erode your self-esteem by celebrating your uniqueness. The world belongs to those who can flex it. What are you flexing?