Growing up I was always considered the “big” girl when being compared to my female cousins. “Tammie, you look very pretty in that dress, but maybe you shouldn’t pick up your second cookie,” aunts would say to me. I heard little comments like this daily and I would continue what I was doing, which was eating my second cookie. As I got older, I came to the realization that not giving the comments the time of day ticked my aunts off! That’s why I came to the decision early in my life that I would be myself no matter the circumstance. “Be yourself.” I personally live by these words. Everyone is entitled to live their life the way they want to. When someone threatens my belief, I make sure they are put in their place.
In my teens, I had an eye opening experience. I was at a sleepover and while my best friend and I were in her room gossiping, I got thirsty. I was getting my soda from the kitchen when her aunt walked in; she had shoulders like a man and was a little overweight. She was there visiting for the day. As I reached into the refrigerator for my soda and she opened her mouth, which was full of food, to say “you definitely don’t need that, in fact I should put your fat butt on a diet.” I was brought up to always have respect for my elders and no matter the situation never talk back to them. I was angry at the fact that I was just insulted by a woman who hardly knew me. As the words rolled off her tongue, tears rolled down my face and I ran to tell my friend what happened.
I couldn’t take my mind off how a stranger’s words could pierce through my “tough skin”. I couldn’t believe that this woman had the audacity to try to dictate what I did with MY LIFE. I began to think of a way to show this stranger that I, Tammie Olagbaju, am the boss of my life. So, with a smirk on my face, I grabbed the can of soda and walked into the living room. She was on the couch, looking all high and mighty, and I had the perfect plan. I planted my “fat butt” right beside her and opened my soda while humming a happy tune. When I was done I let out a tiny burp and said “excuse me” with a high pitched voice. Right before I turned the corner, with that same smirk on my face, I turned around and our eyes met. Mine said “say something else, I dare you!” and all I got back was blank stare.
This was my silent protest. I made it known that I am who I am and nobody should ever try to change that. I made sure that I was still respectful, while asserting the fact that I am not one to be messed with.