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I Attempted Suicide Because Of Hurtful Comments About My Size – Monalisa Stephen Tells Her Story

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Monalisa Stephen is an actress and creative designer, she is known for her advocacy against body shaming and cyber bullying. In this interview with OLUWATIMILEYIN ADEBANJO, she talks about how she has been able to stand tall, despite the negativity that comes with being plus-sized in Nigeria.

You always talk about body shaming, beyond the fact that you have experienced this, what is the major reason behind your advocacy against body shaming?

I am a body positivity advocate, talking about it is my passion. I have been doing this for the past 10 years. Before people got to know me as a model and actress, I used to talk about the need for people to accept their body the way it is. I am speaking for those who have lost their voice due to how they have been insulted in the past because of their physical appearance. As human beings, we cannot look the same way; everybody has their own peculiar body structure.

Some people have tagged you as being insecure because of the way you talk about positivity, what do you have to say about this?

It is normal for people to talk down on what they don’t believe or understand. The issue is not with me, it’s about their mentality. They are insecure and that is why they say the things they say. I am open to criticism so I am not bothered about what people say about me.

Despite the fact that you are plus size, you talk about fitness and staying healthy, do you practice these things?

Yes, I do, I am a dancer. I do yoga. I do a lot of things but I don’t share my sessions on social media. Working out is for everybody, it shouldn’t be for only fat people. Everybody should actually work out. I have a lot of videos. I don’t want to upload my workout sessions on Instagram because I don’t want people to think that the negative things they say to me on social media gets to me.

You talk about mental health a lot, have you ever had any issue with your mental health due to the negative things that people say about you?

The truth is that people used to say hurtful things to me and it affected my mental health a lot. At some point, I contemplated suicide. When I was a child, I was bullied so I used to enjoy being alone because I did not want to be bullied by my pairs. I get a lot of messages from ladies who have told me about how their physique has affected their mental health. It is very important for people to take their mental health seriously.

As regards your physical health, do you do routine checkups?

Yes I do. I take care of my health and I am alright. My health is normal; I do not have any complications.

You are in Nollywood, how has your body type affected your career?

As a fat lady in the industry, you have to work twice as hard to get to the top. You have to work extra hard. Even if you are talented, a lot of producers would not focus on your talent, they would just judge you based on your physical appearance. I have lost some roles because of my size. Sometimes, they give me demeaning roles but I reject them. Fat bodies are normal bodies. The entertainment industry needs to change their perception about fat people.

Due to these challenges, have you thought of going under the knife?

I have never considered it because I am comfortable in my skin. I don’t need it all.

How would you describe your experience as a plus size model?

I have enjoyed it. The experience is nice. I am recognised as one of the top plus size models in Nigeria.

What is your advice to other plus sized ladies?

It is crazy out there. Accepting your body is a journey. They should learn to love themselves first. The most important thing is to love you first. They should stay healthy. You can be fat and healthy. Mental health is also very key. If plus sized women can work on their experience, things would change

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