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A Lagos-based mother of two, Fatima Waidi, speaks to TOLUWALOPE KAREEM about her experience with a company that allegedly denied her a job offer on the excuse that she has belly fat

Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Fatima Waidi. I am from the Atiba Local Government Area of Oyo State. I am a single mum of two and a self-taught hairstylist.

What’s your educational background?

I’m an SSCE holder.

You recently trended online for complaining about a firm that allegedly denied you a job offer because you have belly fat. What really happened?

I had been searching for a job to get extra income as a single mother. So I got information for the interview and decided to try my luck. When I got there, I was interviewed by the HR (Human Resources officer) and the manger. At the end of the interview, they told me “You are who we need,” then they proceeded to welcome me to the company but asked that I wait for the general manager to get to the office for her to meet me. I waited for three hours for her to arrive. When she came in I was interviewed again by the general manager. At the end of the interview she was impressed and shook hands with me and I was asked to come back. I was already excited that I had got the job; I thanked them and stood up to leave; it was then general manager looked at me and said, “You got a bit of FUPA (belly fat);” and I said yes, then she said, “I’m sorry, we can’t employ you because of that.” I was confused and had nothing to say at that point. I felt she could have just told me: “Sorry, you didn’t get the cut-off or not qualified for the job;” rather than body-shaming me.

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What role did you apply for?

It was the role of secretary; it’s not a role that requires physical strength and even if it does, I am perfectly strong for it. I’m not even a person on the big side, so where the discrimination came from got me perplexed.

How exactly did that remark make you feel?

As a woman and a mother I felt bad; being body-shamed by a woman who was supposed to know how the body works, it’s sad. (The size of) my tummy is due to childbirth, I’m a mother of two kids. I am perfectly okay, I have no health issue.

Was that your first job interview?

Yes, it was my first job interview ever. I’m a self-taught hairstylist and I have been styling hair since I was in JSS1. So, I moved from my old location five months ago after so many years and most of my clients couldn’t get to my new place. That was where my plight started. So, while trying to get new clients I decided to look for a job in the meantime.

Was that the first time you would get that kind of remark?

I had never been body-shamed before, so it was new to me and I don’t wish that for anyone. I told my mother when I got back home and cried myself to sleep. Later that night I decided to vent my feelings on my social media page and that was it.

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