As a young girl, I was always very insecure about my weight, body size and shape. Nothing new. It's pretty standard when it comes to females right? We are synonymous with body and image issues. Making this an almost expected part of our journey.
I remember a boy in high school telling me, "I only date girls with a big ass." I don't even know why he told ME, I wasn't checking for him pssh. Okay I was *hides*. So I always remember that and how bad I felt. I do not possess an "African Trademark" so I ruled myself as undesirable for a long time. Never mind the fact that I was a beautiful and smart young girl. I had a sishwapa aka wasplank aka flat ass. No one was gonna marry me *laughs*
As young girls, attention from boys serves as some form of validation for us. Even when the attention is unwanted. So we pay attention when boys speak. Even the silly nonsensical boys. We never hear them get excited about a girl's mind as they do about her physical appearance. We never see or hear them defend a girl. So we then get thrust into the clutches of 'The Real World' with no one but ourselves, and maybe family, to make us feel really good about ourselves and most importantly, feel loved and safe.
This can result in us looking outside of ourselves as we get older. Never truly enjoying being femmes. Never truly understanding the power and beauty we possess. Purely because we exist. Never truly loving and appreciating ourselves as we are.
Women are so important to society. To the families they belong to. The roles we play shape the world. We need to be reminded of that. Constantly.
Over the years, self-awareness and introspection have saved me from myself as a young woman. I called myself out for my silly insecurities about my body. I celebrated my natural hair. Because yes, we can also hide behind our hair. But that's a topic for another day.
I really started to focus on what makes me a phenomenal young woman. And it's a lot things. It's my smile, the way I walk and carry myself, the way I speak to people, my respect and compassion towards others and myself, my ability to make eye-contact and speak confidently, my ability to share my own experiences with others and offer advice, to inspire.
These are the things that will contribute to how I help shape this world.
Education doesn't only happen at school. So it's important for young women to educate themselves about themselves. To dig deep. To do the internal work. As well as to defend the honour of other women. We gotta stick together y'all. There is enough space for all of us to flourish and shine.
Written by Itumeleng "Solar" Modise