Wasn’t it plain cruelty?
That in our minds the picture laid vividly
A clear perception of beauty
Round Boobs and big booty
Imposed at a tender age on our fragile minds
Standard bodies and perfections
Showing our bodies were abominations
That awaited glaring eyes and damnation
The insecurity of our imperfection
Made us adapt expressive suppression
That extra lump we felt
Would just eventually melt
We couldn’t bear the thought
That we had to put in the light
The imperfections we hid perfectly
The things that society mocked openly
Arise, oh! women; let's uncurl
Love our bodies, they’re precious pearls
Use pink ribbons to seal the brief
Cause early detection kills grief
“There is no way I am going to change with all of these people in the room,” I told myself somewhere in September 2003, when I was a first-year girl in Senior High School. I sat down for a while and like forever they all stepped out of the dormitory and I changed into my brown gingham trousers and top. I knew I couldn’t keep up with that but as long as I could, I would. I wasn’t shy, a little shy I must say, but that wasn’t why I didn’t want to change in front of them. I was shy to show my breast; apart from the fact that it was almost non-existence. It looked a little different from what I had seen on TV, so I didn’t want anyone to see my “weird boobs”. That evening, I didn’t take my bath. I faked being cold and I slept. I was a very funny girl, I thought I will not wake up the following morning to take my bath. Deep in my sleep, I heard the sound of a bell. It was morning already. I went to the bathroom and I was shocked to the core. It was an open bathhouse, not cubicles like I was expecting. Naked girls everywhere! All kinds of body shapes and yes, weirder boobs. At the sight of all of these, I had no other choice, I took off my dress and still feeling a little shy I took my bath. It took a while but the shyness eventually vanished.
I know I’m not the only person with a story like this. Most females who attended boarding schools may have experienced this. We grew up always hearing this; you are an “Aketesia”- “Kata wo hu sie” meaning, to cover up. This need to cover-up gets some of us even covering up in the presence of our female siblings and mothers. That’s how we end up being shy and covering up everything that concerns us as women, yes, even the abuse and the changes in our bodies. I was listening to the radio and I heard how several women hid the changes they felt in their breast until they had to choose to live without a breast or die in some cases. As I listened to these accounts, it was mentioned how these women had to keep the changes in their breasts to themselves and the fact that they thought it was a disgrace and most of all, it didn’t hurt. Even on days that it hurts, they hoped the pain will go away like a morning headache. I remember the first time I had to go for breast examination; I had to be giving up my turn so I was the last person to be examined. I didn’t see how I will allow another person not just watch my breast but actually touch them. That is how some women and young ladies have lost their breasts to breast cancer.
In this, month, women need to be told to love their bodies. Love them enough to take good care of them. Love them enough to tell someone when something is not right with it. The shyness and secrecy won’t help us any longer. Yes, be an Aketesia, but don’t hide that thing happening to you. Don’t keep quiet about the breast when you see any change or feel a lump and any other thing that concerns your physical and emotional health. Learn how to self-examine the breast yourself and do it from time to time, not only in October. And when you get the chance for a check-up, do take advantage of it. When the breast feels different, seek medical help.
Cover up doesn’t mean cover up the change.