I became aware of my flaws quite early on in my life. I was just six years old when I decided that my feet were ugly. I would often say to my Mum that if I could only just cut my feet in half, they would be a normal size. I felt that they were dreadful; too fat and too large for my (then) slender frame. As I grew in age, I also grew
exponentially in size and I spent most of my teenage years believing that if I could just lose weight, all my problems would disappear. The root of every issue I had was somehow linked back to my appearance through the faulty thought circuits I had created. By my late teenage years, I ditched the desire to be slim because apparently, as a Black woman, I needed to be ‘thick’. I was thick. I was definitely thick, but not thick in the right places. My breasts were thick, my thighs were thick and my stomach (unfortunately) was thick. Everything was thick, but not in the way that I was told was desirable. My bum wasn’t big enough and my waist wasn’t small enough so my ‘thick’ was just fat.
I always thought that with age, we did away with all the insecurities we accumulated throughout our teenage years. But do we? Or do we just find ways to conceal those insecurities? We stop complaining about our spots because we discover foundation, our weight is no longer a problem because of the hours we spend at the gym fighting our genetic disposition and our natural hair
which refuses to grow remains hidden under weaves and wigs.
But what about the flaws that cannot be concealed or mediated naturally? What do we do when the things we hate most about ourselves cannot be impacted by external variables?
We opt for surgery.
I have nothing against surgery but in light of another young woman dying because of the desire to change her body, I felt compelled to ask some questions.
1) Who told you that you were not good enough?
Yes, society continuously pushes images of perfection upon us, images that no ordinary person can attain, but who told you that you weren’t beautiful? Who makes you feel like what you see is not enough? Who told you that those changes were the ‘right’ changes to make? Who dictates what is beautiful?
2) Will it solve your problems?
For a long time I thought that all my personal issues were caused by my weight until I lost the weight and I still had my issues. I naively thought that as soon as my BMI changed I would view all aspects of myself more positively. Unfortunately, that negative self-talk and those insecurities stayed close by until I addressed them. I am not going to argue that perhaps having a larger/smaller *insert here* wouldn’t make you feel better, but I want to know – will it solve your problems?
3) What will you tell your daughter?
NB: this does not apply if you do not want to procreate, please move onto number 4
One of the main reasons I stopped being crazy/obsessive about my weight was because I didn’t want my child to have the issues that I was battling with. In hindsight, this was quite strange because I was 19 at the time I began to fight for my mental freedom, there were no kids in my immediate future and yet, my fight began because of them. I didn’t want my daughter to meet an insecure, broken woman because I knew it would increase the likelihood that she would become one also. I didn’t want her to stand in the mirror and criticise herself because even without meeting her, I knew that she was beautiful and I never wanted her to think otherwise. Imagine a day where your daughter says that she wants to spend x amount in order to change an aspect of herself, an aspect that you consider to be beautiful – what will you say?
4) Will it be worth it?
The thing that pains me most is when surgeries go wrong and we lose beautiful people on a table that they didn’t need to be on in the first place. Unfortunately, it is only after death that we remember how minuscule our flaws are and how precious life is.
5) Where does your confidence come from?
The greatest turning point in my life was when I realised that although I didn’t think I was that special or beautiful, God had created me in His image. I realised that I looked like God. I thought God was amazing; I still do. When God made me, He took into account all the things I would ever need, combined them together and VOILA. It may not look like much when compared to what I see around me but I know that there is nothing that needs changing desperately; I am enough. My confidence isn’t unshakeable but because it depends on a God that does not change, I can always look to Him to affirm me.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it.
You may never look like the people you see in the magazines, you may never look like the people on Instagram but you are wonderfully complex, you are marvellous and you are enough simply because God says so.
P.s: Dani and I are so overwhelmed and humbled by all the visitors we’ve received over the past week! Thank you so much for reading xx