Ghanaian born – Chicago based plus size blogger, Hayet Rita, battled with weight loss and weight gain for most of her life. In her recent article, ‘Growing up Fat in Ghana’ she describes the journey to accepting herself as ‘one of the hardest things she has had to do’. “Never did I know that it was possible for someone to be so aware of their physical appearance on a daily basis. Never did I know that it would sometimes be the people closest to you that would watch the demise of your self esteem, and be forced to remain silent in the name of cultural norm.” she writes.
Its only when Hayet moved to America that she learned about self confidence and politically correct terms such as curvy and plus sized. In May 2013 she shared her journey to a healthier body through sharing her workout , recipes and gym outfits on #hayetisonadiet. Though she reached her weight loss goal and thought everything else in her life would fall in place, she shares in our interview that she realized that she was still struggling emotionally and wanted people to talk to about the other side of weight loss, the more internal struggles. Hayet uses her blog to not only talk about fashion but to also give her unapologetic thoughts about issues affecting girls like her.
“Learn that no one should be the one to tell you that you are beautiful in order to feel beautiful. Beauty is something that is and should be personal to you and just you. Your beauty may be your mind, your heart or simply your strength. The truth is that, it really is that inner beauty that will help you, shield you and give you the strength to fight off the comments and rawness of the world we live in.”
-Hayet Rida, Growing Up Fat in Ghana
What inspired you to start your blog and to write your article about ‘Growing up Fat in Ghana”?
I have always been a very public person. I initially started sharing my weight-loss story on Instagram and then when I hit my goal I had to ask myself what was next? What people may not have known was that when I lost a ton of weight I thought everything in life would fall into place, but I seriously struggled emotionally. I kept trying to find people who would actually talk about the other side of weight loss, the more internal struggles – how to stop criticizing every inch of your body, how to dress your new body and how to not be so obsessed with your physical body. So I decided to start talking about the things I was going through and how I was overcoming them.
I knew for a long time that I was going to talk about the topic of growing up fat in Ghana. It has been something that has emotionally scarred me and something that has been so hard to let go of. Every time I go home, even after I lost weight people would still be commenting on it. I would always get so frustrated by the fact that I am successful in so many ways in my personal and work life but that was the one thing people would still comment on was my physical appearance. So I decided that I was going to call everyone out on it. Most importantly I didn’t just want the article to be about the negative side of the situation, but also have a positive angle on how to deal with the comments and how to love yourself beyond what people say.
You were very open and honest in the article, what has been the general response from people?
Let me tell you a secret. I actually almost did not post that version of the article because I was so focused on how people would possibly take it. I ending up re-writing it three different ways that were more lenient, but It just did not feel like I was telling the whole truth, and I didn’t feel like I was actually healing from it. So I woke up that morning at 6am and posted the honest version and got back into bed scared to bits.
The response was so overwhelming, by the end of the day It had gained over 30K views. My phone was blowing up! I got very good responses, mostly from people who grew up with the same or similar situations but were too scared to talk about it. And yes, I had a few people who thought I was promoting obesity but I knew those would come, and honestly everyone is entitled to their opinion so I would read the comments and just keep moving. At the end of the day I sleep at night knowing that this article may have brought even an ounce of change.
“The beauty of insecurities is that when you embrace them, they lose the power to make you feel insecure.”You shared this lovely quote in one of your posts, what is your definition of beauty?
Let me get deep for a second. I actually don’t believe that there is a definition of beauty. When you define something you are saying that, that is all it can and should be. Beauty to me is a fluid emotion. It is the outward manifestation of a personal, relationship with yourself. When you have a true loving relationship with yourself, you take better care of yourself, and the people around you, you have a peaceful soul. That is beauty.
You share a lot of fashion posts on your blog, how would you describe your style?
I love when I get this question, because I do not have a style. I change every second. Sometimes I want to be a girly girl, sometimes I want to dress like a boy, sometimes I want to wear pajamas outside my house. Most importantly I would say my style is just a reflection of my emotions at any given time. I do not keep up with trends, and I also do not care about people’s opinion of what I wear, or if something matches.
Your blog also has great advice on accepting yourself, beauty, self confidence, so what advice or tips can you give to someone who is trying to gain their self confidence and own their bodies?
This will sound crazy, but you have to fake it till you make it. Make yourself confident, get up everyday and do what is absolutely going to scare you. Confidence does not arrive in a perfectly sealed envelope. You have to push yourself. But another thing is that you need to have tough skin. The most important thing about confidence is never losing it no matter what anyone thinks.
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