While in Abuja, I got a very nice mani-pedi from a beautician named, appropriately, Beauty. Since I sat there, effectively immobilized by her, my friend joked "you're trapped by Beauty". Back home, I almost never do this, but Nigerians have high expectations and standards for self-maintenance. You always have pressed/ironed clothes, nothing with holes or stains, and every woman (and most of the men) I've seen is very well put together.
Now, I used to be a serious tom-boy. I still barely ever wear makeup and don't shave. So, I'm pretty 'rugged' as the Nigerians say (they mean independent). So all of this is a bit of a learning experience. Luckily 2 years in NYC was good training.
In another funny incident, when comparing me with someone who was very skinny (maybe a size 2), a Nigerian man said (about me, a size 4) that 'you're comfortably padded'. :)
I've had numerous Nigerians look at my picture of one month ago and say 'you were much fatter!'. Yes, I've had two illnesses since being here (one a parasite..which I successfully diagnosed with my Healthy Africa Travel Guide--thanks Lonely Planet!), so I've lost about 5 lbs, but I don't think I would've called myself 'fat' before or after.
So, needless to say, Nigeria is not for any woman who is bothered by being called fat. Nigerians also love the words 'beautiful' and 'brilliant,' so you're as likely to get called those nice things all the time as 'fat'. So, you take what you can get, right?
So, appearance is a different experience here. People are always asking about where I 'do my hair' (answer: I take a shower and I brush it then it air-dries).
I wrote down some 'African Fashion' sites but seem to have misplaced them. I'll post the links later.
Hope you're all well!