Clothes are such beautiful and amazing things. They really are. I mean you can wear them to cover up and ensure that very little is seen. In the same breathe you can choose to show a whole lot of skin depending on little you wear.
For years I hid behind those very same clothes. To take you back, I was raised in a very modest home and was taught to cover up my body because it is a temple. This principle was so ingrained in my psyche that it took me a while to wear a tank top by itself. The older I got the harder it became to confidently show my skin. I began to realise that a lot of it had to do with my confidence and less about how I was raised.
I’ve always been thin and tall. No… Let me say lanky. Even though this is how my body was I had never perceived my body as “not enough”. This was up until I was at the age where sitting next to a boy in class became a “thing” and I would anxiously wait for the boy I liked to ask me out in a folded love letter accompanied by sweets bought from uMama at the school gate.
More often than not I would wait, but to no avail. Only to hear the news that he asked some other girl out. Mind you that I didn’t think this girl and I were any different. This was up until I overheard the conversations between these boys. The conversation centered around “Eh jo, that girl o pakile” (Loosely translated “Yo dude, that girl is well endowed”).
I now lived in a world where I was never the popular choice and a time where preference to me was based on body type. I felt like the last one to get picked. And I wanted to get picked first.
This continued long enough and in various circles that I led myself to believe my worth laid in my body and more importantly in how others, and by others I mean mostly boys, viewed my body.
Oh to be young…
My clothes hardly ever fit just right, I never filled out my jeans, I was a late bloomer and my larger than life feet just exacerbated the situation. So I couldn’t even hide under my clothes. I disliked being tall and thin, I felt awkward. I desperately wanted to be “normal” and fit in. I secretly wanted to be shorter so I wouldn’t tower over more than half of the boys in school, so I wouldn’t be so “intimidating”. I wanted the curves, the breast and buttock kinds, because that seemed to be the prerequisite for validation from those boys.
Fast forward a few years and imagine what went through my mind when it finally became official that I was to walk on stage on national TV in a two piece bikini, A WHOLE TWO PIECE BIKINI. Pulling out of Miss South Africa was not an option so I had to quickly put on my big girl panties, my bikini bottom in this case and its matching bra and walk like the queen I’m meant to be.
For so long I had let others dictate the way I perceived my body that when I finally took charge and defined my own standards it was strange to stare at my own body in the mirror and say “I’m beautiful”. But there more I did it, the easier it became. I mean, after years of wishful thinking those curves never pitched. So something had to change and it wasn’t my body.
I’m much older now than the little girl sitting next to boys at school and I hope a bit wiser. With that I learned to take back the power and claim my confidence on my own terms. That’s when I stopped wishing to change my body but started to change my mind. That even I, the girl who is supposed to be a “model”, I don’t fit the bill. And that’s okay…
I no longer need that validation I so badly craved because I now know I’m more than enough and anyone else who says otherwise can take the next train, bus or taxi out my life because honey ain’t nobody got time for that…
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