Why Do People Have To Be Thin Before We Celebrate Them?

June 13, 2016  |  

By now, you’ve likely seen the engagement photos that have caused quite a bit of conversation. If not, they feature Mzznaki Tetteh, from Accra, Ghana and her fiancé Kojo Amoah. In one of the pictures, Amoah, like so many fiancés before him, is lifting his Tetteh. While many congratulated the couple, there were some who took the opportunity to body shame her. Interestingly enough, it was the negative comments that allowed the picture to go viral.

But Tetteh was unfazed. Instead, she posted another picture addressing the critics.

That confidence in the face of potentially soul-crushing ugliness is what landed Tetteh on sites like BuzzFeed and Revelist, where she explained that the witty comeback the internet was gushing over was “just her.” It was her confidence, her positivity and her images that lead to over 45,000 followers on Instagram.

So it’s quite ironic that Tetteh’s story has been twisted and her image manipulated to promote a message that is simply not true. You may have seen it on social media.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 10.13.21 AM

Source: Facebook

I first stumbled across this meme on Facebook and then again on another Instagram page promoting fitness.  I stared at the image for all of two seconds before I realized that this was not the same woman. I’m not going to lie, the men look similar. But that was not Tetteh in the second picture. Once I realized what was going on here, I rolled my eyes and kept scrolling. But I couldn’t dismiss the thought of someone going out of their way, making a collage of images, inserting some faux deep philosophy on love and sending it out into the internet. Lies never really sat well with my spirit. But it was bigger than this. It was the message behind the lie that was as equally disturbing.

It wasn’t enough to celebrate Tetteh and her engagement as it was, as she presented herself to us. No, in order for us to really be happy for her, she would have to lose weight. Then, and only then, would her love be worth applauding.

When I saw the “before and after” image on a fitness Instagram page, though several commenters told the initial owner of the page that it wasn’t the same couple, he or she was unwilling to remove it or even apologize. Instead, they doubled down on the message, talking about how “concerned” he or she was for Tetteh’s health. And then it went really left when this same person said, “nevertheless the statement holds weight. It’s the analogy of the fact that a couple who works together, stays together ladies.”

Right. It’s the working together that bonds a couple for life. Forget about love, respect and open communication. You should just look slim and trim in your engagement photos. As one of my coworkers pointed out, if that were the case, why are there so many Hollywood divorces? Furthermore, we don’t know a single thing about the couple in the “after” photo.

The older I get, the more I see the value of being healthy and even fit. Health is wealth. Still, at the end of the day, I know we are so much more than our bodies. And it’s a real tragedy that in our weight loss obsessed society, with our singular notion of beauty, that we attempt to shame people for having the audacity to be in love or happy and fat at the same damn time. All of us, no matter what our current size, deserve to feel as confident, beautiful and loved as Tetteh appears to be in these photos.


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