My journey, living in a body I’ve never really loved or thought of as “beautiful” has been quite an eventful one…
I was taught to be very conscious of my body, what I wore, how I wore it and how it made my body look from a very young age and I had no idea that slowly but surely this “self-awareness” just bred a spirit of being ashamed of my body. Hearing my family say “Thuli, you can’t wear that skirt, it’s too short for you” or “you look so much thinner when you’re wearing black” at the age of 12, 13 made me think that of all things I could be in this world, being “fat” was THE WORST THING I could be. I realized that I’m not like everyone else and that I could not wear the clothes my friends wore. I sometimes had to wear boys pants because the section I was supposed to shop in didn’t make clothes in my size. I was bigger than most of my friends and the world reminded me of this EVERYDAY.
While girls my age were worrying about which boy is going to ask them to the Valentines Disco, I was struggling with feeling like the umpa lumpa in the group that no one looked at. NO ONE asked me to disco’s (LOL!!)
No one knew this but my self-esteem was so low it was non-existent, not to mention my sense of self-worth.
High school rolls around and my weight, although still a personal issue isn’t a main feature until matric. The pressures of ‘looking good for Matric Dance’ start to get the better of me so… A few months before the event I decide to stop eating. I starved myself for MONTHS until I saw results. Comments like “wow, Thuls have you lost weight?” became as essential as air to me. At the time, this was best complement I could ever receive. I lost about 10kgs over that course of time but obviously it wasn’t sustainable because it was an unhealthy way to go about losing weight.
First Year spread became a real thing and let’s just say… I’ve been spreading ever since (LOL!) I could write a book on the emotional roller-coaster I’ve been on with my weight.
Even paying for a gym membership for MONTHS that left me (as a broke student) bankrupt because I was in denial about the fact that gym just wasn’t for me. I HATE THE GYM!!!! I don’t think it’s fun, I don’t think it relieves stress (if anything it causes my anxiety to increase) it doesn’t clear my mind, it’s just NOT for me and it took me months to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t have to be an Instagram gym bunny, I didn’t have to hashtag “summer body goals” to feel good about myself. So… I fell into yet another trap of believing my happiness was wrapped up in food (and boooooy do I LOVE FOOD) I gained so much weight just “being happy”. I ate what I like, when I liked and I convinced myself that that was the pinnacle of happiness. To my disappointment it was just heart burn, acne and “oh my goodness, how can my favourite jeans not fit? When did I get here?”
I’d be lying if I said “I got my life together and stopped eating so much” because I really haven’t. I still over indulge but I’m a little more mindful now that my happiness is not food. I need to think about longevity and health (which I still struggle with everyday) because of my struggles with my self-esteem, I’m more conscious of not comparing myself to the Insta girls who have banging bodies because that’s not me and you know what? I’m learning that “Another woman’s beauty is not the absence of [MY] own”.
So basically I’ve committed to “learning to love the parts of me that no one claps for” (my FAVOURITE QUOTE) because that’s my journey and no one else’s. Loving myself is no ones responsibility but my own and maybe I’ll get to the point where I’m eating clean and hitting the gym everyday but right now… “1 Oreo Mc Flurry please!”
-Thuli Cwayita Nduvane