I come from a humble background, so things like designer bags and designer clothes were not things I grew up around. Every penny mattered in my household. I was taught not to be wasteful. As a teen in London and into my 20’s, I would often ask my friends who were obsessed with designers, why they would buy expensive brand names when they couldn’t really afford them. I knew I was comfortable in my own skin with or without designers.
That was my view until I relocated to Lagos in 2008. It was my first time of living in Lagos and we had relocated to the ‘’Island’’ which was supposedly the most affluent part of Lagos. In my community, I was surrounded by ladies who rocked designers at work, church, school run and even for prayer meetings. For the first time in my adult life, I felt the pressure to belong. I spent the next summer holidays abroad looking for the biggest designer bag that I could afford that would match my new environment.
BIG BAG, BIG BABE
I eventually found a Gucci Bag thanks to my sister inlaw who knew someone that had access to real designer bags. It was big enough and noticeable and when I got back to Lagos, levels had changed. I started getting looks of approval with my new bag. Silently I had entered the big babes club. Some bold ladies would actually compliment me in the supermarket or out and about, ‘’Oh I love your bag’’ they would say. One of my managers had a similar bag to mine but in a smaller version, once she spotted my bag she never brought her bag to work again. A few years later when we had both left that company, I asked her why I didn’t see her bag again and she said, it wasn’t appropriate for a subordinate to have a bigger bag than her oga. We both laughed.
THE BIG SHIFT
There was a shift in my life a few years later. I was seeking deeper purpose. I founded a movement called Raising Confident Girls. The discussions are always centred around building inner confidence in girls and it made me reflect on my own values. We can’t raise confident girls, if we are not inwardly confident. I started to appreciate that confidence is not superficial and not defined by the bags that I rocked. I didn’t need a designer bag to define me. At that stage I rebelled against my designer bag. I sent it back to London and left it in my brother inlaw’s loft. In fact, one day I packed 2 other designer bags and gave them to my house keeper to get rid of. She was shocked. ‘’I don’t want them I said’’. Just take one and give the other to your friend. Before I could even change my mind she had collected them and left the house. For 2 years I stopped carrying any sort of designer bag. I didn’t want to be associated with any label. I would just carry a small purse or paunch.
ACCEPTANCE OF MY DESIGNER BAG
Things changed slowly. I had a grip of who I was. I was not defined by anything. This year my husband said he wanted to buy me a designer bag for work. After resisting it for a short while, I accepted the bag as a gift because my mindset had changed. I can carry a designer bag now and appreciate its beauty and value without attachment or without believing that the bag defines me. That is growth and that is what I wanted to share with you. Can you identify?
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