“Kehinde, come and help me undo my girdle”, Mummy called.
She had just returned home tired from a long day working at UAC in Marina Lagos. I went into her bedroom, her Jheri curl wig and dress had come off and what was left was underwear under a beige looking contraption. I helped her undo it at the back and with a huge sigh of relief she pulls off the girdle.
As a young child, I couldn’t understand why my mother wore a girdle. It didn’t look nice and by the sound of it, wasn’t comfortable. She always had her bra and panties on so what exactly did the girdle do? One day I asked and she said it held her stomach in. “Why do you need to hold your stomach in” I asked. She replied that after having 5 children, her stomach stuck out and the girdle helped her hold it in which looks better under her dresses, skirts and wrappers.
Back in the day, girdles were always at the top of Mummy’s shopping list when she travelled to New York every two years. Mummy treated her girdles like one would treat precious stones. I hated the sight of them hung up in the bathroom after she washed them. They were ugly and looked like too much hard work and I often wondered why she didn’t just do without them.
Fast forward about 17 years later, just before I had my son Kash. I went to visit one of my cousins. I looked at her in admiration. She’d gotten married a few years before me and had a little daughter. As we chatted, I told her of the plan I had to get my tummy down after the birth. She told me to make life easy for myself and get a girdle.
I was horrified!!!! A girdle?? Nooooooooooo!!! No no no!
Visions of a life sweating, trying to get a beige contraption on and off came to my mind. History was not going to repeat itself! I was no longer a thin secondary school child. I now understand how my mum felt, how just letting it hang out was not an option for her.
“It’s easier, that’s what I did.” my cousin said.
As I sat there, I began to think, how could a girdle flatten my cousins tummy when it didn’t flatten mummy’s? I looked her over again, she was very slim with no evidence of a protruding belly.
Later that night, I had a nightmare. I wore a girdle and couldn’t get it off and I was panicking struggling to breathe. I woke up sweating, grateful that it was a dream. A few months later, I had Kash, and after my 6 weeks doctors check, hit the streets with my trainers thinking, “there must be another way”.
Thank you Mummy, your girdles helped me get fit.