Women, please, get stronger. #Rippedgoddesses

Who wants to be a ripped goddess? I do, which is why for two weeks now, I have faithfully visited the gym, read articles about strength training, changed my diet and bought a bunch of workout clothes. I have even forced myself to become more sociable, so that my fellow gym goers can teach me proper weight lifting form.

I intend for fitness to be a habit, a lifestyle, as opposed to one-off activities that leave me cursing the day I was born. The goal is for my muscle to develop enough to make me double take every time I pass by a reflective surface + general body strength.

It has been interesting, peoples’ reactions to my ambitions.

My cousin gave me a look that was half pity, half snarl and said, “I hope this phase will pass.”

My friends cheered me on, obviously, because I don’t make friends with idiots.

The men in my life have nodded nervously before shifting the topic to a different subject, but the most interesting of reactions come from strangers, specifically, strange men.

I have been told how a woman with muscle is a man’s greatest fear, how they will run away from me, how women are meant to be soft and fat.

I have been questioned about who exactly I want to beat up, told how I am already hot and that my desire to pack some muscle is an indicator of my low self-esteem.

I have been told how I will look scary and always, always I think, how come these men, strangers at that, are viewing my fitness plan in the light of their desire, or more specifically, how they desire me to look so that “men”, aka they, will find me attractive?

It makes no sense, but that is how women have been looked at for a long time, as mannequins that exist solely for visual, and other kinds of enjoyment. We are to tailor the way we look to society’s expectations, whose plan is to send us into dull unions, from which we shall be expected to pop babies.

I would never consider marrying a man who is threatened by me taking my health and body image into my hands and regardless of how good looking the jama is (and I really like good looking jamas you guys), when he starts to spout nonsense about how I belong in the aerobics section thanks to my being female, I tell him to stop speaking to me because the conversation just ended.

Here are a few reasons why I think every woman should make it a point to get into fitness and become stronger:

Osteoporosis: Strength training reduces your risk of getting osteoporosis, a condition which causes your bones to become weak and leads to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. If you don’t want to be as brittle as a pringle when you hit 50, start accumulating bone density now.  

Molestation and rape: One out of every four women around you has been a victim of rape or molestation. One reason that unsavory characters feel it is OK to harass you is because they know they are stronger than you. Men are also routinely encouraged to molest women, by our own leaders. Take for example youth minister Ronald Kibuule who has once again opened his rapey mouth to spew rapey sentiments, like,

“I have talked to the IGP and the police in Kampala to see that if a woman is raped they look at how she was dressed. Most women currently dress poorly especially the youth. If she is dressed poorly and is raped, no one should be arrested,”

Asked to define what amounted to indecent dressing, the minister, who is also Mukono North MP, listed mini-skirts, bikinis and tight jeans.” This is from the Daily Monitor website.

When you can fight back, you are that much safer.

Posture: I don’t know about you, but I want to be walking as straight as a jambula tree at the young age of 95.

Peace of mind: Depression cannot share space with sweat. The more active you are, the more likely you are to feel energetic, motivated, confident, sexy and in control of your life. Take it from a girl who has battled some mean demons. Working out will shoo the black birds away.

One thing women worry about a lot is that when they begin to lift, they will bulk up ala the hulk. Honey that isn’t going to happen. You don’t have the testosterone necessary for that. You’re just going to get super toned and you’re going to feel even more beautiful, stronger, more alive. For more information on that, holla at the Google. 

Check this page out for inspiration: Who wants to be a ripped goddess?

And please sign this petition that is demanding the resignation of Ronald Kibuule. We cannot have rapists in public office. This rape apologist is youth minister. I will not have him as my minister any longer. Sign here: Out with Kibuule

Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Voluntary Deafness and Victory Over Lokodo’s Brothers

One of the best things about life on earth is time; the passing of. I no longer want to break my work neighbor’s imitation beats by dre headphones. I no longer fantasize about stepping on them “by mistake”. My heckles are resting and show signs of staying down as far as this issue is concerned.

Walking Kampala’s streets with noise cancelling headphones wrapped around your head changes the way you experience many things.

First and most importantly, the headphones disarm street hecklers (who henceforth shall be referred to as Lokodo’s brothers).

Lokodo’s brothers have one method of operation. They identify their prey, line their ugly words up, wait for the lady to get within hearing distance and then attack. If they are feeling particularly creative, they grab some part of her body. Usually, she’ll just walk away struggling with a thousand and one feelings like “Should I turn back and slap? But what if they gang up and beat me? Should I just sit down and wail?”

The first time I walked past Kamwokya stage with my headphones on, I was nervous. The usual suspects arranged themselves along my path and everything from their body language to their eyes emanated lechery. When the moment of attack came, uncertainty danced on their faces. They froze for a couple of seconds and then one of them shouted, “Nyabo, owuliira?”

I sauntered on undisturbed and jubilant. The power of these men lies in whether or not the victim hears their disrespectful words. They couldn’t tell whether or not their talk would reach me and were thrown off balance. Somebody ululate with me!

The stings of Lokodo’s brothers have been blunted. I can happily wear whatever I want (short skirts, anybody?) and walk with as much “efujjo” as I desire.

Let me make it clear that these nasty men bother me even when I’m wearing maxi dresses. Anybody who believes that clothes cause rape and/or street molestation is a supporter of rape and deserves jail time for endorsing the behavior of rapists.

When I confirmed that headphones could save me from all kinds of unwanted street attention, I became addicted to them. They were like a curtain between me and the world, a curtain whose parting only I could control.  The only time I didn’t wear them was bath time.

One evening after work, I stopped at a Tuskys. My plan was to visit a friend before heading home, so I wanted to get something fun like muffins. I bounced into the supermarket, picked what I needed, paid and left. Because I was feeling so energetic, I decided to walk to her house. So far so good.

A few meters from her gate, I realized that my hands were empty. My kaveera had vanished. I have never been more confused in my life. I retraced my steps and accosted not one, not two but three people, inquiring if they had perhaps seen a kaveera lying around. I’d say, “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you with such an absurd question, but could you have seen…or picked a kaveera with bread and muffins around here?” They were all carrying kaveeras that were shaped like mine. I suspected them all of picking my groceries and now withholding them from me. They all looked at me like I was mad.

When I arrived at Tuskys, I was received with a lot of laughter. It turns out that after paying, I’d swept out of the supermarket without my bundle and because of the music blasting into my head, hadn’t heard the workers calling me back.

Dancing with Marketeers/ Oopa Apenyo Style.

Although I didn’t find the topic of the night exciting, I attended Marketeers night on the 3rd of this month. I figured that the keynote speaker would only have the floor for thirty minutes or so and if he was boring, then that would be the price to pay for the exquisite dinner and the self-esteem boost that always comes from spending time with people who do what you do. Heck, I wasn’t even paying the 100,000 for my ticket. All I had to do was send an email saying yes.

Jimmy Mugerwa, CEO of Tullow Oil spoke on the importance of marketing in the oil sector. This is certainly a necessary topic and I was hoping to glean some real wisdom from his words.

Mr. Mugerwa may be a firebrand in oil and energy circles, but the man is just not an engaging speaker. All I got out of the thirty minute speech was that Ugandans need to open their eyes and grasp the opportunities that come with so much oil being discovered in the country.

After his talk, my workmates and I visited the dessert table to bring life back into our bodies, through our mouths. Have you ever looked at sweets and cakes and fruit and had tears come to your eyes? Have you ever felt defeated by the splendor of it all?

We returned to our table when the emcee was making a call for table captains and all my workmates turned to look at me. I was confused. From their giggle filled explanations, I learnt that every table was supposed to front its best dancer and he or she had to go to the front and shake everything that their momma gave them.

Now if you are a regular reader of Stiletto Point, you know that dancing comes as naturally to me as breathing. I dance on my way to work, in the queue of a bank. I dance on the hills of Kololo when I am working out. Dancing makes me feel alive. It injects my blood with a jolly madness. I happily agreed to be table captain.

Seven other people from other tables walked to the front of the room with me and we exchanged amiable if nervous greetings. I was sizing them up all the while. When we were told to get on stage, three people dropped off. Dancing at the front of the room, they could do. Getting up on stage like some teenagers at a kadanke? That was too much for them.

In the beginning, I didn’t know what exactly we were dancing for. My first moves were Macarena, caterwauling hands and a little waist shaking here and there. When, however, a fellow dancer informed me that we were grooving for a trip for two to Mombasa, well that changed the game.

I felt stupid first of all. Dancing for something small is more fun than dancing for something as drastically fun as a trip to Mombasa. I felt like a circus bear riding a bicycle for treats from its master. But then I also liked the idea of winning. To calm my nerves and kill the indignation that had started to build up, I decided to dance like I would at a house party.

That’s probably why I am now immortalized on youTube in a Point Blank segment, no less, jigging like I just don’t care.

Kampire made 10,000 gifs. She’s the best.

Here, have another gif:

😀

Here is the entire video:

.

Dancing makes my world go round.

All in the genes (DAD). #3days

I work out quite a lot nowadays. I no longer feel like my blood is crawling sullenly through my veins and I don’t need to crunch my stomach muscles that hard to see the beginning of two WHOLE abs. My workout routine involves a short run (preferably up a hill), a squat (during which I curse myself for ever starting in the first place) and then a vigorous dance that may or may not involve shaking of booty depending on how my day has gone.

When I described this to my boyfriend yesterday, he gave me a look and said, “I envy the way you live, Mildred. Nary a fuck to give” which made me happy.

When I described it to my sister, also yesterday, she called me crazy. That, coming from the person with whom I (regularly) break into song and dance in the middle of the street is very rich.

I wouldn’t call grooving in public with an aim to get fit crazy or eccentric. There are, however, things I’ve done that fit both of those bills and I blame it all on my father.

See, Dad does not know the meaning of self-consciousness. He does not recognize its existence and expects everybody to experience the world as he does, or else they have a bad case of Satan, or something.

Dad got himself a reputation (and a nickname) for being the lawyer who goes to court in sandals. On any given morning, he wears his coat and trousers (mismatched), gown, sandals and then heads off with a weather beaten laptop under his arm.

At some point, he grew as big an afro as his hair-quality would let him. Whenever a client or an employee would poke fun at him/ complain, he’d say, “Mildred says it looks good.”  Self expression oyee!

He wore sunglasses everywhere for some very long months of my life.

He once dug TWO fishponds in the backyard of a house we were renting in Bugoloobi and filled them with catfish. I’m surprised that nobody in the family has whiskers.

He keeps us in laughs, stories, and FML blushes.

The most just-watch-how-much-I-care thing that I remember him doing happened when he took us all to Didi’s world to experience Uganda’s first recreational park with rides and everything. We were excited, but not as much as he was. He herded us to the water slides, somersaulted into his swimming costume, climbed the ladder and slid ever SO slowly down the big, winding slide. He had a very large, laughing and pointing audience but did he care? NO. I don’t think he even noticed. The pool was empty, so nobody died when he splashed Panda-bearishly into it.

I was proud of my family in that moment. We didn’t run and hide inside the bumper cars. We stood torn between cheering him on over-loudly and trying not to cry.

My 22.9 years have been filled with incidents like this and there are many more to come so don’t judge this girl when you see her shaking her belly fat off on the side of a busy street in KLA. Blame her father.

My mumsy outfit of the day:

Mum would SO wear this

Fatness happens. Get over it.

My waistline is creeping away from me, it’s true. Partly, it’s because I can now afford lunch and I’ve outgrown the idiocy that inspires anorexia. I no longer have to walk from Akamwesi to Dfcu to Lecture room what to room 3 in God knows where.

Rogue kilograms have arranged themselves around my curves, to the (overly dramatic) dismay of family and friends. The only person who seems to approve of this larger me is a perpetually drunk dude at my stage, who calls out “size yange!” every time I wobble past. Wait. Saying wobble is poking fun at myself. I don’t wobble. My walk is musical.

When I was in senior four, I had a teacher called Mrs. Lubega who in the middle of an English lesson informed us that we would all get fat, so fat that we wouldn’t be able to recognize ourselves. As one, we cried, ‘Blasphemy! 16 year old bodies are forever! We won’t let ourselves go! Etc’

A couple of years later, nearly everybody who was in that class has gone up to three dress sizes up. Their cheeks are rounder, their entumbwes jiggle when they walk and they look nice but mostly feel bad about their new selves.

It wouldn’t take too much effort for us to maintain some approximation of our campus bodies really. There’s all the walking that we could do from taxi stages, up the stairs to office and down the stairs to the canteen, if we could be bothered. Instead, we send the office messengers for our breakfast rolexes, hop on boda bodas for any distance that involves more than 5 footsteps and avoid all forms of exercise, probably because the permanent scars that the compulsory chamuchaka in high school left on our psyches. As for gyms, few are willing to part with their exorbitant fees.

The way adulthood is structured isn’t doing us any favors either. The world offers three socially acceptable options. A 9-5 job, an entrepreneurial endeavor or marriage.

According to aunts and other advice givers, a business won’t survive if you’re not committed and involved. Basically, do it yourself or suffer big losses. So if you run, say, a clothes shop in equatorial mall, you’re going to expand from all the inactivity and boredom induced eating that keeping shop comes with.

If you work a 9-5, you have only one hour to yourself during the course of the day which you almost invariably spend stuffing your face with soda and pilau. The only way to get exercise in is to break into spontaneous stretching in your cubicle or in the office kitchen, but it won’t be long before the MD tells you to stop behaving like a lunatic on his premises.

For the ones who have dived straight into housewifery, the fat gathers even faster unless they have a home gym (in which case they have abs that can crack eggs).  If it’s not because of the gallons of porridge you’re swallowing to manufacture breast milk for your new baby, it’s because you lie about all day pointing the maid in the direction of the housework.

It’s sad and irritating how much pressure we’re put under to remain looking like our half starved university selves. Nobody owes anybody an explanation for their new hips or their rounder bottoms. Don’t make us waste our most beautiful years on weight-paranoia.

THIS ISSUE OF SIZE. We stone it.

“This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn’t be able to protect them from self-disgust” is a line from On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Good book. Read it). It has built itself a monument and stuck its flag into the soft flesh of my brain.

From knowing many people of the female variety, I’ve come to agree with Zadie that whatever a girl looks like, she will, at one point, look at her reflection in a full length mirror, stare long and hard and hurl something at it.

Why is this? Welllll, we could blame TV and ‘the west’. Nothing pleases us better than a good rant about how once upon a time  African women and men were totally contented with the generous serving of curves that God had given them until the west and globalization invaded our lives with silly ideas. Those TV, fashion shows and magazines have partly contributed to us judging ourselves by an unreasonable standard, but the ‘west’ doesn’t stick fingers down your throat to “make all the extra food come out” or put you through unhealthy diet plans.

It’s not to blame for the willful starvation,  the silly, misplaced pride you feel for being able to skip lunch, the mock-wailing tones in which you boast to your girlfriends about your lack of appetite or of the way your boss is stressing you into smaller clothes. This ridiculous behavior is on us.

If your rounded figure is going to make you hate yourself and feel abominably fat, you don’t deserve youth and beauty and whoever is in charge of that stuff should hasten your wrinkling.

Do you remember the OOHing and AAHing internet revolution that happened when Adele appeared on Vogue’s cover? Opinions were zipping around the internet like hyper ticks. The people who really irritated me were the angry ones. They said things like: Why does she always make references to her weight during interviews?  She’s pretending. She’s not secure at all! She cares! She’s fat!” Idiots.

She’s a big girl. We can all see that. Stop screaming about it as if you’re the only person who subscribes to sight. If Adele feels like making (adorable, charming, wonderfully phrased) references to her size, take it or stop reading/ listening.

I totally agreed with the ones who put Vogue on the spot for using only headshots of the woman.  Adele is not a bust. She’s got a body that is just as beautiful as her face!

The people who kicked me into a bottomless pit of disgust were the posers (I’m not angry anymore. I’m ZEN now). Before Adele stole the whole world’s hearts, eyes  and ears, back then when she had one album and a smaller but steadier following, a certain acquaintance of mine very disgustedly refused to entertain my squeals of ,“she’s awesome!” because of Adele’s size. That’s right. She said, “That chick is too fat!” and now she’s one of the biggest Adele posers in existence. It doesn’t help my irritation that this disgusted girl is not what exactly what you’d call svelte. She has side bellies.

How you feel about your body comes back to the standards you judge it by. Obviously, obesity is a horrible thing but fat? Flesh? Those are no more beautiful or ugly than naturally small.

Women. Yum.

We’re all allowed our preferences, but people please. Desist from concussing us and our sensibilities with ugly references to size.

Remember that you are young, and beautiful. Princess Ikatekit said that.