Criselda Kananda goes glam

By Drum Digital
12 January 2011

SHE strides in looking like she’s stepped off a catwalk: trim and elegant, her skin is glowing and her eyes sparkle. She’s the very image of 21st century big-city style – a woman in her prime with the world at her feet.

Heads turn as she arrives at the upmarket Sandton restaurant dressed in a tight-fitting bustier, stiletto heels, long weave and skinny pants and makes her way over to our table. It’s hard to believe, but this is none other than radio star, HIV/Aids activist and businesswoman Criselda Kananda. And she’s no longer the rather overweight activist we used know dressed mostly in simple traditional outfits. Now she’s pure Jozi glam.She laughs when we tell her how good she looks. “I even get approached by younger guys who now see me as a woman, not just an activist. I get guys coming up to me saying ‘Hawu, kanti umuhle kanje, sisi’ (Wow, you sure are beautiful).”

Life certainly is on the up for the Metro FM host and it all began to change the moment she stopped worrying so much about what other people thought about her.

“Because I was a public person living openly with HIV, I didn’t want to look sick. If you’re thin, people assume you have fullblown Aids. So suddenly I was eating double what I used to eat and getting really chubby! I wanted to show people that the face of the virus is not always that of a sickly, thin person. But I was ill-informed back then because by trying to look ‘healthy’ I ended up putting my health in danger and getting huge,” the 42-year-old mom admits.

Her diet, she says, was the main cause of her weight gain. “I used to eat amagwinya vetkoek) for breakfast, iquater (a quarter loaf stuffed with chips) for lunch and a plate full of fatty food for dinner.”

Then a year ago she decided to change people’s perceptions by proving that even HIV-positive people can look slim, beautiful and, most importantly, healthy. So she embarked on a month-long fast followed by a new healthy eating plan and soon her life was on a different path.

“It was incredible – as I lost weight, my confidence grew and suddenly I was no longer being called ‘mama’ by women my age,” she says. “Now I’m free to wear tighter, sexier outfits – and I’ve found love. What more could I ask for?”

Read the full article in DRUM of 20 January 2011

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