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We live in a world where society deems the verbal slurs that women have to deal with as body shaming. Although curvier women have had to bear the brunt for most insults, the world shouldn’t assume that young women who are skinny have never had to deal with their fair share of cruelty for the way their body is structured.

Being skinny has not always been seen as advantageous. Primary and high school are a constant reminder of how being skinny made me hate my body. I would wake up in the morning, stare in the mirror and find something about myself that I didn’t like. Since I’d spend most of my time at school, it would seem like the very flaws I’d identify were the ones of the students would pick on at the school I went to.

I’m naturally small, I’ve been underweight my entire life and no matter what products I tried to use, or treatments I went on to try gain weight, I never succeeded. I eventually got to a point where I was okay with my body and the words that other scholars hurled didn’t affect me as much; that was only when I turned 17.

If it wasn’t my grandparents trying to force feed me, it was my classmates reminding me of my lack of “development”. We all know girls become curvier when they hit puberty, so when I turned 17 and I was still being mistaken for a 14 year old, I felt inadequate and my classmates did not help much. It even reached the point where they started diagnosing me with illnesses and eating disorders, all because I was unable to pick up weight like they could.

I’m half way through my 20’s now and more comfortable with my body than what I was before. I reflect on the torturous primary and high school years and I’m reminded constantly of how much negativity and how much damage the words spoken from those scholars affected me. I was lucky I went home to a happy home with parents who reminded me everyday that I was perfect, as is.

The tables have turned, those who used to harass me about my body, now want to know what I’m doing to stay so small and what is the secret to my small figure. It seems that now my size is what they aspire to be when not so long ago I was the “awkward” looking one. There is no secret, my metabolism is ridiculously fast and I still eat whatever I want when I want.

It surprised me to learn that women were doing ridiculous things to their body in order to lose weight. From starving themselves, eating tissues to prevent getting hungry, skipping their insulin injections so that they could remain skinny (characteristic of type 1 diabetes), even taking laxatives and undergoing gastric bypass surgery… basically, women were going to great lengths to get the body which I had been told was not womanly enough. They were going the extra mile to lose the curves that I was told, define a real woman, the curves that I was robbed of.

I realized when I turned 20 that the only person who can make me feel happy about my body was I. I stopped listening to the opinions of others, and started drowning out their voices with my own powerful voice. So now, when I look in the mirror, it’s no longer flaws that I see, it’s perfection, because that’s how I see my body – as perfection, and I realized, at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters about me is the one I think about myself.

 

It was in that moment when I truly understood what being “confidently comfortable in your own skin” meant.

Lerato Mannya (@MzLee_)

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