The Beautiful Me

by Zamile Hlongwana

Never in my life did I think I will ever come to a point whereby I would even consider myself as beautiful. I just never thought that the society gave girls like me a chance to even love themselves. For all I knew, girls that looked like me had no right whatsoever to even feel, let alone show that they are beautiful. Somehow, I had to live my life in an apologetic manner. I felt like I owed society an apology for not looking the part. I got used to people thinking that I was 10 years older than my actual age and having them throw insults all the way they wanted; after all I was just a fat girl and girls like me didn’t have any right to have feelings, or be emotional in any kind of way.

For girls like me having a crush on a boy was almost an “extreme” sport because no matter how much you liked him, you could never ever let it be known. Not because it was embarrassing to like a boy, but because if ever the news came out, he was going to be the joke of the school for having the kinds of you crushing on him. In other words; even liking someone was an insult.

During my teens and late teens, I never made any effort to even look ‘beautiful/attractive’ because I just knew that no matter what I wore, no matter what hairstyle I had I would always be the fat girl. I avoided the back seats of taxis, because no matter how crappy the taxi was, it was always going to be the fat girl finishing the space. I would have to fake fast walking no matter how tired I was, because I just didn’t want to be the stereotypically lazy fat girl. You know how when a size 2 person is just walking slowly, nobody has a problem but when someone my size does the same, she is labelled lazy or too fat that she cannot even walk fast. Whenever I had food in my hands, I would feel a need to explain to people that it was my first meal of the day, just so to avoid being judged. Apparently, girls like me did not and still have no right to be hungry, I mean why we would be hungry with all this meat going on.

Society Okayed it for girls my size to be made jokes and be ridiculed about how they look. Everyone becomes a health inspector when they see you.  Somehow people look at you and feel entitled to having opinions about you; after all you are just a ‘fattie’ who cannot think for themselves or make their own decisions.

The biggest lesson though that I had to learn along the way was self-love. After seeing that people are just never satisfied with their own lives and that I should quit expecting them to be satisfied with mine, my life totally changed. The love I was in fear of showing to myself, suddenly wanted to come out and I couldn’t resist it anymore. I had to learn that I wasn’t beautiful for a big girl, I was a beautiful woman, period. I have been working on creating a space for girls from all walks of life to know that they have every right to love themselves and show it. One day I want to mother kids that will know that they never have to be apologetic about who and what they are.

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