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screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-2-30-50-pmChibundu Onuzo’s second novel Welcome to Lagos hit the stands a few days ago.

She’s also gifted us a brand new short story that incorporates everything we obsess about in contemporary culture—Instagram, netflix, hashtags, weight loss, and many more.

The story is titled “Kentish Town” and was published on www.express.co.uk.

“Kentish Town” tells the story of Aramide who has a good bit of weight on her. Her boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind. Romance is good up until Aramide decides to go on a diet and pretty soon ascend to social media stardom.  The question then becomes: how does her boyfriend who loved her in her overweight glory fit into the universe of the supposedly new and improved Aramide?

Here is an excerpt. Enjoy!

***

On our fifth date, I invited her to my flat and cooked a meal.

I borrowed a Netflix password and Bose speakers from my neighbour. The heating was set high and Aramide was wearing a cardigan. Beads of sweat ringed her neck.

“You’re hot. Take off your cardigan.”

“I don’t want to,” she said. “My dress is sleeveless.”

“So?”

“I don’t want you to see my arms.”

It had never struck me that she might be conscious of her body. It was she who said hello first, it was she who asked me to sit down when I would have remained standing the whole night, too shy to touch her.

“I want to see.”

She made a joke of it, walking to the centre of the room, unbuttoning slowly like it was a striptease but when she stood in her black sleeveless dress, she did not meet my eye.

“Your arms are beautiful.”

They were dark and large, smooth to touch, the stretchmarks streaked through her skin like seams of gold.

The diet began as a favour. Aramide’s friend wanted to shed her pregnancy weight and she needed a buddy. They opened an Instagram account and called it Shedder Gang.

Each week they would post a photograph of their reduced selves, hashtagged #FatIsUnfashionable. After 30 days and two dress sizes down, the friend dropped out but Aramide continued.

We stopped going out to eat. She joined a gym and I joined with her.

I would lift a few weights and take a break after 15 minutes on the cross trainer. She would sprint 30 minutes on the treadmill, then switch to the cycling machine.

After the first month, Shedder Gang had 1,000 followers. After three months, 10,000. In each photo, the numbers she posted dropped: 260, 255, 252 – a catalogue of her life in pounds and ounces. Strange men began hitting on her.

At first, crazy men with obscene, unhinged messages and then normal males whose profiles she showed me: taller than me, handsomer.

Read the full story HERE.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Chibundu Onuzo’s New Short Story is About Love, Weight Loss, and Instagram” Subscribe

  1. john_onah 2017/01/09 at 07:16 #

    Asap….I.Must.Finish.This.

  2. Lydia Oluchi 2017/01/09 at 15:14 #

    Poor guy. Feel sorry for him. You read a lot of these stories and it makes you wonder if the relationship crashed because the man was daunted by his partner’s newfound confidence and image. Or, if the woman had suddenly realized she can do much better. Enjoyed the read.

  3. Ifeanyi Daniel 2017/01/14 at 12:20 #

    Lydia, it’s probably the latter. In this story, the guy doesn’t notice her self-consciousness not to speak of feeding off it.

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