Orobo: The Nigerian Insensitivity To Big Women

I remember sometime in 2006, walking into a cinema in Queens, New York and paying to see Phat Girlz the movie, I was so excited that there was a Hollywood movie with a Nigerian element. *sigh* Not only was I not pleased with the very predictable Nollywood type script and the fact that RMD would have made a better ‘Tunde’ than Jimmy Jean-Louis, I found it hard to understand the concept of the movie. To me the writer just told a big lie that the Nigerian society preferred single phat women to the skinny ones. Maybe this was true back in the day but in modern Nigeria, I find that very hard to believe.

If you have never been big, you may not understand the point of this post and please if you have never been over a UK size 14 (US 12), then you have never been big. As someone who has struggled with weight and weight loss for a couple of years now and being single, I find myself eligible to talk about weight and the Nigerian insensitivity to big women especially single big women.

It is a known fact that Nigerians could be insensitive but what I find surprising is that in a continent where most women are heavily ‘endowed’, the thicker women are not appreciated. Shopping is a nightmare because you can never find things in your size and finding a tailor that can sew a perfect outfit to complement your shape and cover the rolls is like finding a needle in a haystack (it is that hard!)

Nothing irritates me more than being called ‘Orobo’; you might as well call me a Nigga because you are only stating the obvious that I am bigger than the average size 8. Blaming my weight for my health problems, I could understand but blaming my weight for my relationship status I am yet to understand.


A lady walked up to me in church once and blatantly said ‘Orobo when will you lose weight so you can marry?’ while poking the obvious love handles that I was trying hard to hide and God knows I was a second close to b$%@h slapping her till I remembered it was my dad’s church and I was the pastor’s daughter. It would be an unforgivable sin to the members of the congregation, so I looked at her and smiled because all the words in my head were words of anger and maybe some curse words.

The big women who are married feel they have the right to be big because they have husbands and maybe children. The first line of defence is ‘I am a married woman, so I can be big’ while of course we the single ones have no reason to be big. It doesn’t matter if it was an effect of self-esteem issues, health problems or genetics. As long as you are big and single, you are an outcast.

Forget what you heard or saw in Phat Girlz, single Nigerian men DO NOT prefer the single bigger women, it is a known fact that to get married, you would be required to lose weight and are free to gain everything back as soon as you say I do, of course at the risk of losing your husband to a smaller woman in extra-marital affairs. I am yet to find a Nigerian fashion designer that caters to plus-size women; I’m talking ready to wear plus-size clothing.

To prove I am not the only one that gets these insensitive comments, here are some of the comments to weight that some people have gotten in the past

  • If you look like this now, what will you look like when you have children?
  • You know you look old, you will only get married as a second wife looking like that?
  • My dear, with the way you are adding weight, you’d scare all the husbands away o
  • Ah! stop eating the burger and ice-cream in America
  • You look like you just came from a calabar fattening room
  • You need to lose weight, now is the time to catch the guys
  • Will your matriculation gown fit you at all?
  • Hmmm…you will ruin my car shocks

And my personal favourite…

Aunty Orobo, wetin you wan buy, I get your size!

I could go on but like I said only the single and big would understand, if you’ve never been big, you would never understand.



By Sheila Ojei

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