I remember seeing this picture for the first time and going all wow!! The irony of it was that I was in the salon getting my hair done, but you’ll see where I’m going with this.
On my matriculation day, I remember everyone looking all glammed up, as if to outdo one another, it was a beautiful sight by all standards but not to a lot of people. While waiting for the procession to start, that sunny morning, my HOD began walking the lines as though inspecting us one after the other. He stopped in front of my friend, I was standing right beside her and in the full glare of everyone, he went on about how huge her lashes were and how prominently her highlighter was popping –was so bright it terrified the poor man, seemed okay to me though.. He started the infamous speech and his words rigmaroled to one conclusion – you can’t succeed with make up on.
Dumbfounded is the word to describe how I felt, asides embarrassed of course. He said this in the full glare of everyone and even if you didn’t agree, you’d best swallow that opinion of yours unless you suddenly lost interest in graduating with your mates. Everyone around us bobbed their heads in agreement, even those with eyeshadow dust falling onto their cheeks from the several layers of makeup on their face. Our HOD gave a self satisfied smile and went about his business.
I probably have to put a disclaimer here, I am not in any way calling anybody out, I totally respect everyone’s opinion and I think I’m respectfully expressing mine on my own small space of the blogosphere, within the ambit of the law – (insert more official jargon here). You get my point, I have the kind of coursemates that can forward this post to him and I kid you not.
So let’s address this concept or misconception. IS BEAUTY THE STANDARD?
Growing up Nigerian, I heard a lot of stories ,fables and motivational speeches about how beauty was superficial, how the inner something matters the most and how if you were beautiful you had to go the extra mile to prove to the world you had brains to go with it. The logic was simple, you just couldn’t be smart and slay at the same time, the only time the letters SS came together, was in relation to the dreaded condition.
I have a really beautiful friend, like Adesua kind of light-skinned and beautiful, straight nose with all the works and if you remember reading this post,I talked about running a preliminary diploma program before the LL.B. At the end of the program, this my friend came out second best graduating student with a 4.3. I wasn’t surprised, I knew the sleepless nights we spent in the study room, nights we would read from the night before till 3am or 4am of the exam day, horrible nights I tell you. So I wasn’t surprised at all when it was announced she finished top of the class, but a lot of people were and they expressed it in several ways. With the girls, it was more of gossip and Chinese whispers ;we would hear of how she either slept with lecturers or carried Expo into the hall and they would end it with the flippant remark.
“No be this girl wey dey rub make up Dey come class Ni?“
We would hear all these and laugh loud and long. The guys were more direct with Their approach. I remember standing in front of the lecture hall with her once and a senior counsel walked up to us, called her name and exclaimed that when he heard the announcement, he didn’t believe it was her and he wanted to be sure, because he never saw her as smart. I will not add here what he said to me, because this post is not about me but believe me,the indignation we felt that afternoon was perfectly masked in the smile we gave while saying thank you.
The underlying message here is that most people tend to write you off once you ‘look‘ pretty or dress ‘bougie‘ . There’s a presupposition that smart girls weren’t meant to be beautiful and vice versa. I like to describe myself as the life of the party. Not to blow my own trumpet but I’m that friend in the clique you’ll talk to first to be able to get in, and somehow, this reminds me of something Chris Brown sang
‘How you gon’ hate from outside of the club, you can’t even get in ‘
You know that person that’s always smiling and talking to New people and strangers? That’s me. My close friends call me smiley – yes, after the emoji. Someone’s actually saved my number with a smiling emoji, like no name, just an emoji to describe me. I’m not one to bury my nose in a book 24/7 while in class, or to strike a conversation with you on why the GDP is not a true reflection of economic growth -nah, I’m not that kind of person. You see, being like this comes with its downside – remember that extra effort I talked about in the beginning of this post? Yeah, that’s it. I’m not even pretty by regular standards or even smart but the misconception stays the same.
During my final year in the undergraduate diploma, I had an A in criminal law twice, both semesters and I never will forget the kind of backlash that came with it behind the scenes. You think you’ve been embarrassed? Wait till people walk up to you and told you something along the lines of
‘you don’t look smart, I was so surprised to hear it. If you tried to look serious more, it would help you a lot ‘
Ouch? Yeah, it comes with the territory and I dare say, I’m used to it already.
In my school, it’s compulsory to run some general courses in your first year, which consists of the indigenous language, a lot on Nigerian history and some other stuff. The exam on its own is quite something -I remember how after the exam, I shed buckets of tears – I have a panic disorder that makes me freak out alot!!!!! ,so the tears is something I’m used to already but it caused a scene and scared a lot of people who were yet to write the exam, because we write in batches. It was really difficult tbh, I can only talk about it now because it’s past and wasn’t a disaster after all. When the results came in that night, they send it via text and you get the breakdown from the school app. Everyone started forwarding their texts to their parents and the general what did you get? Started. My ex,after seeing mine, said to me and I’ll never forget
“so, you’re smart, wow! I never knew. Thank God, because I really like smart girls”
The next day in school, someone walked up to me and called me a pretender, with a stupid grin on his face I badly wanted to wipe with a few fingers imprint as souvenir. Instead, I laughed and said thank you. He didn’t end there, he went on about how he never saw me carry the textbooks around or see me in the library or night class, then he exclaimed that I must have deceived my friends. I didn’t let him go without schooling him that my girls were on the same level with me, one of my girls even came out with straight As in the general courses and he stood there, the stupid grin never leaving, but that’s a story for another day.
Need I say here that I don’t believe in burying your nose in a book 24/7. I read only at night, and it works for me. You don’t need to see the process to know it’s happening. A lot of people recite textbooks and ask questions in class, sit in front and all the works, yet this doesn’t reflect in their result, but I’m just saying.
I met someone who doesn’t believe in organized learning, she would say severally how she hates the idea of the classroom. She’s owns her own company now and she’s a graduate, mentoring a lot of young people.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of carrying textbooks around like a pilgrim’s burden. I tell my friends, I prefer to have them on my phone in PDF format, since I’m almost always with my phone, it makes sense. Granted, to some people, the idea of carrying big textbooks gives them comfort, with the attendant backache from all that load and I respect that. Society has however made that the standard. To be a serious student, you have to seat in the front, ask questions in class, argue with lecturers and slug textbooks in an enormous backpack. I feel back benchers aren’t appreciated enough. There are people who aren’t quite serious with studies and all, I agree, but society tends to lump everything up together, creating a stereotype and if you didn’t fit in, then you’re just unserious.
I’ve met people who are charting a steady First Class course for themselves but you’ll never know if you weren’t close to them, they just didn’t look the part, most of them being back benchers. I’m not advocating this for everyone but you should just do what works for you,really. I’ve had people tell me they pretend just so people would think they’re smart, how stressful it must be to not be yourself. I just want to say here that you can be smart and slay at the same time, no matter what society believes smart to look like. From years of experience, I’ve observed that most of the people leading the class are not the ‘serious looking type ‘ ,the long skirt, natural hair tightly cropped to the head fellas. I’ve seen girls lead the class with Brazilian hair and highlighter popping . Smart doesn’t have to look a certain way and neither does beauty, it is what you say it is.
This brings me to the focus of this article, Daisy Okonofua.
She is beautiful ,even the devil would agree. I can only imgine how difficult it must have been, being that pretty and staying an A student at the same time. I like stories like Daisy’s and I’m proud they’re beginning to get the limelight.
This is to let you know it’d possible to be SS – smart and slay at the same time. I was stuck on her Instagram profile for a bit and I muttered to myself how if this news hadn’t come out, no one would have guessed she was that smart. I mean, the girl lived her life, had her own share of fun with a straight head on her shoulders and it’s probably why a lot of people were shocked. It would have been less of a bummer if she looked the part, I guess.
I hope everyone understand that I’m not against anyone that swears off make up or wears baggy clothes and all that, I totally respect the struggle, in the same vein I think the world needs to know that conventionally pretty ladies have proven severally to be up to the task, even as people believe all the time spent looking good is detrimental to the education, I’ll like to add here that Powede Lawrence was a beauty queen, nurse and pilot all before the age of 25, and she didn’t have two head. I am proud of her and the world is too.
It’s possible and yes, you can!
Let me know what you think, below.