My body, my flaws. Who are you to judge?

The recent furore around Lerato Kganyago, True Love magazine and Photoshop reminded LIZEKA MADUNA of the days when she was mocked for her weight, and made her realise that body shaming still threatens the self-esteem of many women. She’s sick of it.

When I was growing up, I was always treated differently from my peers. I was called names which referred to my weight, and it didn’t really bother me until I was old enough to understand. What I didn’t know at that time was that one of my friends, who was very slim, also encountered heavy criticism over her body.

Body shaming doesn’t affect only “plus-size” women. If you’re a woman, everything from your body size to your skin tone will be scrutinised. If you’re “plus-sized” then you’re too big; if you are a size 6 you’re too small. It all makes me wonder, what is an “ideal woman’s” body supposed to be, if it even exists anyway?

Body shaming occurs in different spaces, and sometimes we tolerate it by laughing when being shamed for having curves in what are perceived to be the “wrong” places, or even for supposedly being “too skinny”. The funny thing about people who shame others is that they always find something wrong, even when there is nothing to scrutinise.

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There is nothing as humiliating as having people throwing derogatory comments at you for choosing not to entertain their stupid advances. As much as some people would take this kind of behaviour lightly, there is a young girl or a woman out there who is probably suffering depression as a result as was the case with me. As far back as I can remember, my body image was part of the long list of things that constantly had me stressed out.

When people made fun of my body, I would simply laugh and turn a blind eye to it. Later, it started affecting me deeply. I lost my self-confidence and I accepted that I was different from other people – and that was the greatest mistake of all.

It’s especially appalling when the media condones this kind of gruesome, nerve-wrecking behaviour. As if having clothing stores throwing it at our faces that plus-sized women are abnormal is not enough – but is it really that surprising? The media, especially magazines, have taught me that an ideal body of a woman should be slender with some curves, like the women who grace the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. Despite tthe status quo, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that True Love magazine justified editing cellulite out of images of Lerato Kganyago by saying they were doing her “a favour.”

Women are always placed under pressure of having to make sure their bodies always look good, and for who? Knowing just how far some women would go to have all the looks desired by their male counterparts and the society is disheartening. If it’s a body that doesn’t fit the standard, they will starve themselves, and if their skin is perceived as being too dark, they take to using skin lightening products. Others even go an extra mile and resort to surgical skin lightening procedures.

Being judged by the size of your body and the tone of your skin is one of many reasons why women punish themselves with unhealthy diets and bleach their skin with lethal skin lightening products, which affect their health in the long run.

It’s time to claim back our dignity and not give in to the society’s irrational idea of what a “perfect” body should be. I want us to start embracing ourselves and condemn body shaming. How can one person encourage others to take care of their bodies by making them hate themselves?

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons