21st June, 2011
I used to be one of such people who felt it didnâ€™t matter what I looked like. I used to believe I could wear whatever I wanted as long as my spouse approved of it. I used to feel I could look crazy outside, but very decent inside. I was one person who used to love going to the extreme when it came to clothes/fashion.
Yesterday I was discussing with some of my friends on Facebook, we came to a conclusion that we should be careful about our looks because it says a lot about us. I used to dress in such a way that people who were not close to me saw me as one crazy Lagos girl who was so involved with society life.
People who knew me before now know there are changes in Amara. I used to carry my hair pure blonde with my long bright red polished nails and some crazy clothes on me. The first impression people used to have about me was that of a club girl who was just enjoying her life.
But I was a different person, entirely different from what I appeared to be outside. I remember some years back, when I went to help a woman in my estate who had a new baby (I find joy doing this). I was the one cooking, washing, cleaning and going to the market for her. Then one day, the husband came to me while I was cooking and said, “Amara, I never knew you were this humble. I used to see you as a very arrogant and crazy person, but my wife continued telling me how nice you are.â€ I laughed and then told the man, to his utmost surprise that I have never gone clubbing in my life, I donâ€™t party, I donâ€™t keep too many friends, I rarely visit people, and I donâ€™t take alcohol.
A guy who later became a friend told me how he used to despise me because he saw me as a very arrogant person. He saw me as one spoilt brat who didnâ€™t have anything in her head until the first day we spoke when he saw humility and respect for morals. He said he used to ask his friends why they should always bring someone like Amara to speak during conferences, but that stopped the day his friend forced him to seat and hear me. He said he was there just to prove to them that all Amara knows is fashion.
I am not here to talk about me, but to let us know that when people say we are addressed the way we dress; they are right. I was addressed and perceived as someone entirely different from who I truly was. This is the case with so many of us. We are constantly addressed by how we are perceived and our looks (how we are dressed) create the perception others have of us. I decided to change my looks and I can tell you I have never regretted it.
It was only when I changed my looks that I started attracting the kind of friends I have now. When I used to dress to flow with the fashion world, I attracted friends who were mostly nuisance and idle minds. But my new looks now tells everyone â€œshe is a serious minded lady and responsible.â€
I am not trying to preach hypocrisy here, but I became a crusader for decency and moderation in our dress code because I have seen what it can do. In the course of my youth training programmes, I have had girls come to me with so many complaints about always attracting the wrong men.
My question has always been? What do you call â€œthe wrong manâ€? If your definition of the wrong man is a man who is not â€œrichâ€, I am sorry I canâ€™t help. But if your understanding of â€œthe wrong manâ€ is a man who is not responsible enough and is not as decent as you are; if you are talking about the â€œyahoo yahoo boysâ€, if you are talking about drug couriers, if you are talking of a man who sags like a prisoner, then I can help you.
There is something about you that says it all about you. Even when that â€œgood manâ€ accepts you and falls head-over-heels in love with you, the mother rejects you. We are still Africans, I know we live in a modern world and that is why you struggle so much to become more western than the westerner; but the fact remains, we are still in Africa.
Even the whites we tend to imitate are very decent people. You canâ€™t see a white girl wearing a club dress to the church, but here in Nigeria, that is the norm. They know what to wear at all times and for different occasions. During my conference last month, I told the teenagers to always look at the British Royal Family and Americaâ€™s first family. I first asked how many people would choose being a nationâ€™s first lady or princess instead of being a Hollywood actress, they all chose the former. I then told them to stop imitating Hollywood and Nollywood and start imitating Royalty.
Princess Kate will not walk on the street half naked; she will not buy a push-up brassiere just to entice men even when it is obvious they are flat. She will not dress to attend church with the mindset of enticing the priest. Unlike a popular Nigerian actress who attended the last Presidentâ€™s lunch with youthâ€™s semi nude, Princess Kate covers herself properly because she knows her worth.
I donâ€™t know why our clergy keep quiet over these things in the church. I know you will tell me it is not my duty to change any man. I agree with you, but what do you do when that person stays in the church for one year and there is no conviction to change? We over do things and this is our greatest problem. You want to dress like the civilized world, I am in support of that, but who are your role models? You keep looking at Beyonce, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. Why not go for the likes of Oprah, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Condoleezza.
I know you want to look fashionable, now tell me; have you ever seen the likes of Oprah, Clinton, and Condoleezza wearing ankle chain? You wonâ€™t see Obamaâ€™s wife wearing two earrings on one ear at the same time. You wonâ€™t see her push out her boobs for the whole world to see. You wonâ€™t see her wear a see-through clothe comfortably without a camisole inside. This is a true example of Royalty.
What about some old women who donâ€™t want to get old? I know you love your make up, but you shouldnâ€™t turn yourself into a laughing stock among kids. I must also say this to our ladies who change their walking steps and end up giving themselves bad figure just because they are trying to become what they are not. You can go on carrying your entire chest up when you walk, go ahead and hit the legs together when you walk. You will someday get old and then it becomes a weak point to you.
For the mothers who are still into indecent dressing, I donâ€™t know the message you are trying to pass across to your daughters. If you as a mother wear ankle chain and four rings on your fingers, your children will grow up to wear it on their tongues, navel, and eyelids. If you permit your child, your daughter to wear whatever she likes to church, there is no way she will change when she becomes an adult.
When you are dating a man and that man enjoys you going out naked, my dear, you have to put your eyes down and be sure he is in love with you because I have seen a good number of them dump those ladies after the whole exposure. Clothes are there to cover you up and one sign of a mad person is torn and tattered clothes. When I see you with torn materials all over your body and your boobs falling out; what do I call you?
You must not wear everything in vogue. Please avoid the temptation of going for something simply because it looked good on your friend; you are two different individuals.
It is time we go back to a life of decency. I have learnt a lot from my male friends and I can tell you that men are no longer attracted to women who are very artificial. Avoid the heavy face panel-beating (make-up), be moderate with your nails and hair because men are tired of seeing the false, they want to see the real you. Go for clothes that flatter your figure and colours that complement your skin. Learn to cover up properly and leave the men guessing.