LONDIWE

Hmmm writing this piece was not as easy as I thought it would be. As I thought about what to put down or omit, I found a couple of my red flags going up. I think for the first time in my life this piece really forced me to critically reflect on my body image and more in particular the ‘issues’ I have with my not so perfect body.

I think the biggest realisation that I had to grapple with was how I have almost ‘normalised’ viewing my body image and my own perceptions in a negative light. It may sound silly but it is actually quite uncomfortable to note down my own feelings concerning my own body as I am coming to an awareness that what I have really thought about my image was inspired and influenced by people around me. So with a knotted stomach, I write… here goes nothing…

I have always been big, or rather chubby for most parts of my childhood. What was interesting in this phase of my life was that I never really saw myself as “bigger than the kids my age group”, totally in a state of oblivion. It was not something I thought of or even cared about. This came to a change as I grew up and I met the disparaging eye of society.

When I got to High School, still chubby and in full knowledge of this state, I started getting involved in various sporting activities. This initiative saw me shedding a couple of pounds off towards the end of my schooling career which was fantastic as I my image never made it as a topic when I walked passed people. I was celebrated and complemented by those who knew me before and now seeing my ‘new’ and ‘transformed’ body.

You see, as far as I can remember, I was never really unhappy about how my body looked or too concerned about it for that matter. My only truth rested in that I loved food (still do) and sometimes the consequences of this was weight-gain; this, I had no problem with as it makes logical sense. I think what initiated me being fully aware of my body was the varsity setting and trying to establish my sort of style when it comes to daily dressing on campus.

From then on it was “oh my bum has grown bigger” or “the cellulite on my thighs is becoming a problem”.

Over the years, besides me assessing my own body and what I thought needed to stay or go, I also had people around me who exacerbated these thoughts and sometimes in the most hurtful of ways.

The media with its stereotypes, also adding onto this whole ideology of a “healthy body is a thin body” never really helped.

I think I am at a point in my life where, yes it would be lovely to lose some weight but if I don’t it doesn’t change who I am. I think for me, what has been my winning card has to be my personality. So I choose to invest in that and also try to be healthy, whether ‘big or thin healthy’.

I think every body-image should be celebrated and it is OK to have a bad day or even sometimes be critical of yourself, but be careful that you are not mean or unkind to yourself and your body; after all, it is this body that houses your being and soul which others have fallen in love with.

“It is also helpful to realise that this very body that we have, that is sitting right here, right now… with its aches and pleasures… is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive” Pema Chodron

Love&Light

Londiwe Mahlangu

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