As a growing young girl, she sneaked out from the eyes of her parents to wear skimpy clothes which they advocated against. Today, Mrs. Emelda Osuji is the founder of Women and Modesty International, a non-governmental organisation which promotes decent dressing and decent look in our society especially among young girls and women. She spoke with us.
Where are you from?
I am from Umuchu, Aguata LGA, Anambra State but I am married to an Mbaise man.
How would you rate the dress sense of Nigerian women?
Looking out there, you see how indecently our women dress. To them dressing is all about exposing what makes them a woman. And when you ask them, they will tell you that it is the fashion in vogue. That is why Women and Modesty International is set to counsel our women on the need to dress decently and still look fine and cute. A woman should not dress to expose all that makes her a woman, before she achieves her beauty. She can dress covering up and still look unique and beautiful. That is the aim of the NGO. And I can day that women are beginning to change the way they dress.
The truth is that it is not easy changing ones habit, especially habit that has been formed for long. So it will take time but we pray that with time we are going to achieve it effectively.
What motivated you to set up Women and Modesty International?
After I have won several awards on modesty, I sat down and taught it wise to have a NGO where our women would be counseled on the need to dress decently. Many women think that they can dress any how and it ends there, but it does not. When we talk about indecent dressing, we should also talk about the negative effect on the person and the society at large. That was the motivation, the need for women to wear a decent look. We take our campaigns to primary schools, secondary schools, high institutions and anywhere that we see women gathered.
What is the effect of indecent dressing in our society, especially on our young female girls?
It is not limited to only our young girls, even married women. The truth is that every woman should dress decently. If you don’t dress decently as a woman, the negative effects will be there. The negative effects include divorce, destruction of home and even rape. Today, the level of divorce is high; it was not like this in the past. In a situation whereby a woman comes out exposing all that makes her a woman, she is out to attract millions of men and remember, men are moved by what they see, but women are being moved by what we hear. When a man sees a woman who dresses indecently, the only thing in his mind is to get closer to her and touch all she has exposed. When this happens, many marriages are in trouble.
So are you indirectly attributing divorce to indecent dressing? How?
Exactly because when a woman dresses covering all that makes her a woman, she is not only helping herself, she is helping the society in which she lives, she is helping marriages to grow and she is helping the youths to learn that decent way of dressing and decent look. We should embrace this decent way of dressing. We should try to do away with indecent look. Exposing all that makes you a woman is not where fashion ends. A woman can still cover up and look good and fine.
What is style to you?
Style is all about bringing out the picture of what you have in mind through the way you look. But you as a woman, you should be creative in a very decent way. My own definition of style is trying to bring out the picture of what I have in mind that will command respect because each decent woman, carries a respect that follows her.
What kind of a woman are you?
That I dress decently does not make me a perfect being. I have my weak points and short comings. What I am saying and what the NGO is saying is that we should dress decently and work on our short comings and weak points.
What is your greatest fear in life
I fear death. It must surely come but what matters most is where you are going after death.
Tell us about your beauty secret
I have no beauty secret. I rub my powder and my wet lips which is my lipstick. For me, I like looking just natural.
Your style signature is your long hat. How did you come about the hat?
I wear low cut, I don’t like hairs on my head because I have long hair. So growing my hair gives me heat, apart from that I stay too long under the hair dryer and I don’t have such patience so I decided to cut my hair. And I have been carrying low cut for a very long time. As a woman who carries low cut, I sat down and thought of the best way to bring out my face. So, I decided to wear big earrings and the long hat. That was how it came about.
What advice do you have for girls and women generally when it comes to dressing?
Believe it or not, we Nigerian women we are the most beautiful in the world. My advice to them is they should remember that they are all beautiful, there is no ugly women depending on how you keep yourself. Dressing and exposing all that makes you a woman will never make you beautiful instead, it will bring you down. It will make you look cheap, unkempt, frustrated, and make you look as if you want to destroy the people in your society. Women should dress and look decent to cover all that makes them a woman. They should wear a decent look and work on their weak points.
As a young growing girl, how was your dressing like?
I as a woman, I must have had many experiences in the area of indecent dressing. There was a time I use to dress indecently and there is no man that passes by me that will not turn back to look at me. I dressed to expose all that makes me a woman. My parents were hammering on it but I continued. I was born and brought up in a very strict family environment; my late father was a headmaster. Growing up with a headmaster as a father was very strict. He did not want us to wear trouser nor anything revealing because he knew the negative effect of exposing the body but to us as growing children we sneak out and dress the way we liked.
But those times I wore these clothes in hiding, I knew how it was for me. I have a fatty body, if I wear jeans or skimpy clothes; there is no man that will pass me without looking back because all my curves will be showing. But when I saw the negative effect, I told myself this is what my parents were trying to teach us. When I started dressing decently, men appreciate me but in a very decent way. I command more respect wherever I enter. Whatever I wear, my hair must be covered because that is my style.
My dressing now, has won me several awards. The first was given to me by the Oba of Egbeda. It was an award on modesty; Philosophy department of UNILAG gave me an award on modesty, LASU, efizzy magazine and some others.
Does your husband love the way you dress?
Yes. But there was a day he said I must dress like a chic and I said it was alright. I told him I won’t wear trouser but I will wear skirt jeans. He brought it with a fitted top which I wore. Immediately he dropped me off at where I was going, as I turned, one young guy just stopped in his jeep and said, baby where are you going? My husband pursued the man. So, since then, he does not disturb me the way I dress. The following day, when I tried wearing the same outfit, he said no, I should dress the way I want.
You have been married for 11 years. How has it been?
It has not been easy but you have to wear that cloth of patience to be under a man. Nigerian women take a lot just to be under a man that is why you should keep your hands clean and pray for them.