My whole life, I was skinny. I ate whatever I liked and stayed small. I wore a size 34 and people commented on my beautiful figure. When I was in college, I went to gym everyday. I had rock hard abs. I did it because I loved it, not because my goal was to look good. I was told that I needed to put on weight, as I was too light for my height. Yet EVEN THEN - I was not happy with my body. I wanted to be skinnier. I wanted bigger boobs (only an A/B cup back then). I hated my freckles. I didn't like that I had such big feet (size 8).
Fast forward to my first marriage. I had lost so much weight that I wore a size 32 wedding dress and, when I look back, I think I had the most amazing body. Was I happy then? No. I hated my thighs and almost always wore board shorts to the beach.
My husband passed away when I was 25 and food became my vice. I ate my emotions (like so many of us do) and I put on weight.
Three years later I met my husband. I wouldn't say that I was overweight, but slightly more curvaceous. I worked hard to shed some weight for the wedding. I had never worked so hard before. I had always been skinny and now the weight just did not want to shift. I did bootcamp religiously three times a week, pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion at each session. I ate only what I was told and followed a high protein diet. Yes, I lost a little. But living such a restricted life, for me personally, is no life at all.
After Nunu was born, I once again began a very strict lifestyle and the weight fell off. But to be honest, I think this was because I was breastfeeding. I carefully watched what I ate and had two protein shakes- one for breakfast and one for lunch. I exercised daily once I was given the all-clear (after my C-section). But once I stopped breastfeeding, the weight piled on. It was soul destroying. My body decided to turn against me and bulged out in different directions. I wanted to cringe on hot days when more skin was seen. And one day, I just broke inside. I was tired of the negativity, the body hate and the shame. I was sick of punishing myself by comparing my appearance to others. I was extremely depressed about the way I looked. I watched what I ate, exercised like crazy and yet nothing changed. I weighed myself weekly and hated how I felt after. It was a feeling of self-loathing, as if I had no worth because of what the scale told me. One day I just stopped. My negative body image was starting to impact my relationships and I didn't like that.
I looked at my diet. I eat healthily. Yes, I have the odd treat every now and then, but I think everything in moderation is good. I lead a relatively active lifestyle due to my job as a teacher - I have to coach sport and I am on my feet all day. It was time to stop the hate. It doesn't happen overnight. I still have days when I hate what I look like and wish that I could fit into a smaller pants size. I am lucky to have an incredibly supportive mom who, when I would moan and say I couldn't wear a bikini to the beach with my new mom bod, would sigh and tell me how ridiculous I was being. I have an amazing husband who tells me to stop being silly and tells me that I look great. Wobbly stomach, stretch-marked butt, cellulite thighs and all.
It doesn't matter anymore. This is me. I was so tired of being my own biggest bully and breaking myself down everyday. Is any women ever really content with their body? We criticise ourselves constantly and live in a society where it is mostly socially impermissible to accept a compliment graciously. We are robbed of many happy life moments because we are so worried thinking what our body may look like.
Wear the swimsuit this summer. Do it with confidence. Swim with your kids, laze on the beach and read on the lounger. Life is so very short, don't miss out on these precious moments.
Our campaign would not have been possible without the following kick-ass women and their brands:
Swimsuit: Isla and Celeste from Storm in A-G cup
MUA: Lene from Opgedollie
Flower Crowns: Anli from Anli Wahl Floral
Photographer: Angela from Our Sunshine Journey
Venue: Kelsey from The Last Word Hotel, Constantia
And my partners in crime: Cisca from Its a Mom's Life and Bongi from Ndibambe.