Body positivity: Why you need to be kind to yourself and others

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Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
  • Women are often unhappy about how their bodies look, as though there's something to 'fix'.
  • Comparing yourself to others will only steal your joy and make you feel like you are not good enough.
  • Social media also has ridiculous, curated expectations that are unattainable. Be intentional about the content you follow.


I interacted with different body shapes and sizes when I dabbled as a stylist. It was striking how one dress, for instance, would fit differently on women because of their unique features.

These women had one thing in common, though, they were always unhappy with their bodies. I would hear it all the time, and if it was not the small boobs, it was the flat bum or thick thighs and stretch marks. I could go on and on. There was always something 'wrong' to find.

I am guilty of it too. We would have a caucus to compare and wish we had something the other had. I am yet to know a woman who embraces her body without any buts.

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Why can't we love our bodies as they are?

Blogger Nomali From Soweto writes: "Body positivity is not a pick-and-choose bag from which you can select whatever makes you feel nice about your personal body. Body positivity is for normalising bodies that are viewed as 'other'. How is succumbing to diet culture and thinness aspirations body positive when what you have done is eliminate one fat body and make yourself bend to the 'ideal' of what bodies are valid."

I recently followed an indirect algorithm instruction on Instagram, and I started following 24-year-old Vuyolwethu Mbewu from Cape Town. She is a swimwear brand ambassador, and I am inspired by how she embraces her body. 

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"Body positivity to me means being kind to your body and also being mindful and kind to other people and their appearances. We all look different, and that should be something we celebrate and acknowledge rather than criticising or body shaming. I advocate for body positivity because growing up as a big girl was very hard, especially in the black community.

"Body shaming in black communities has been a norm. I was always reminded that I was fat. So, I decided that I wanted to be the one who has a different and more positive approach when it came to such and that I'd advocate for body positivity," she tells us.

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Vuyolwethu shares that her mother would always get her covered up clothes or suggest clothes that weren't necessarily something she would pick for herself.

"She was most probably trying to protect me from the body shaming. When I was old enough to pick my clothes and understand my style, that's when I started embracing my body, and it felt good to be able to buy a curve-hugging dress and feel so beautiful instead of a dress that would hide my curves as if they are something to be ashamed of."

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STOP THE COMPARISON 

We are all unique, and we don't have the same genes. Some have big boobs, others a big bum, a flat stomach and some not, thick and thin legs. Comparing yourself to others will only steal your joy and make you feel like you are not good enough. Who is good enough? In fact, what does that even mean? 

EMBRACE YOUR BODY

It takes some unlearning and being intentional. Also, find what kind of style best suits you, your personality or what you are comfortable in. It is not about anyone else but you and your style aspirations. Doing this will help you boost your confidence and help you be content with who you are. 

Social media also has ridiculous, curated expectations that are unattainable. 

Vuyolwethu says: "I always encourage people to follow people that post content they can relate to, not content that's going to make them doubt themselves but content that makes you want to celebrate yourself. Surround yourself with love and positivity."

I am certain that following Vuyolwethu will make me ditch the caucus!

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