There's a hymn in the local UCCSA hymn book that says 'O ntsee jaaka ke ntse!' literally translated to mean 'Take me as I am'.
As a young woman I know the daily struggle to appear to have it together to the world, both looks and life really. I know great dress sense has been joked to be great manners and almost some sense of godliness and one of the things that society teaches its young is importance of cleanliness and appearance, but alas with the advent of social media, and its flawless subjects, this has taken a new turn for the worst, or does this look like overweight vanity?
The self-imposed pressure we put on ourselves as women to have just the perfect feet (cue podiatrists' appointments), the perfect hips, the perfect skin, the perfect afro, the perfect perm, the perfect hair color and cut, the perfect children, the perfect husband (we stretch it that much), the perfect living room space, the perfect lip hue, we can go on and on, is a lot of times really insane and unnecessary.
It really is okay to aspire to be more, grandeur if you must, but when it comes with pressure and certain amounts of stress then there is something very wrong about it. I know that whether my toes are stubby or not, whether my curl is tight enough or not, or whether my hips give just the right curve to my jeans, my worth is a lot more than what is on the outside!
I once spoke with a friend about how it doesn't help that women ourselves are our worst mirrors and evoke more pressure in ourselves than the men who we are trying to impress, if we are, how draining!
Cava this, corporate meeting;
A man will be in right fitting clothes from underwear to belt at just comfortable fit, where a woman will wobble in, in ill-fitting high shoes, a bra tight enough to push the twins just to the right perk, a thong to not have a hideous panty line (I want to meet whoever thought thongs were a great idea, or maybe I wore the wrong ones, geez those things are mighty uncomfortable),wait I'm not done yet, a 'lie-to-me' to make the baby popped belly flatter than pre-baby and a belt pushed to the not so comfortable hole to make for a waist, see I'm even out of breath writing this! How skewed can it all get? The man you're sitting across from is in loafers and no parts of his body are trying to escape out of little spaces made for them. Sigh!
What we feel about ourselves, especially about our physical selves, should be a non-matter in the grander scheme of things. Right where I sit I have really ugly toes, spread and with bunions corns from ill-fitting shoes over the years but who is going to check my ugly toes to see if I can hold interesting conversations I do with just about anyone? Who is going to see my ugly toes to check if my warm personality is really in fact warm? Will my beautiful smile not be appreciated because I have ugly toes??
I think not, no, I know not. But as people we are caught up on all these things that really don't matter. Hear me, I am not saying you wear Kanye West inspired clothes like you've been attacked by pitbulls, I am not saying don't wear your make up. I am not saying don't wish for whiter teeth if it is whiter teeth that you fancy and you have the moolah for it. By all means go ahead and pay that dentist bill for white(er) teeth.
I mean, I want perkier breasts post child birth and the big weight loss, and I will get that for my 40th, yes but it don't mean that right now with my current breasts reaching up to my waist after 14 and 18months breastfeeding gigs with my two children I am not an interesting person to have a conversation with, or to know. I am just vain about breasts but I'm still fantastic. We need to see past the physical because we sure will miss on all else because our focus point is all messed up.
Just this morning there was a picture of a beautiful bum of a woman with stretchmarks for the whole of Africa. Like I say the bum was gorgeous but now the focus was on the 'stripes' earned from childbirth, and post-partum or maybe weight gain. What does it matter? As women we go through SO much already as it is, pregnancy included and I think that's enough without having to worry what marks stretched where. I keep showing my girls my 'watermelon' as we call it. From both their pregnancies I had stretch marks radiating from my belly button out, and with my massive weight loss it means that stretched skin bunches up. Does it worry me, no!!! Did it worry me? Plenty, when I was naive, but other than my partner who sees beyond the crumpled mass who else knows about it or sees it, or does it make my conversations boring? I don't think so. Does it make me less warmer in personality? I doubt!
A friend once wrote; "Pot belly? What pot belly? Stretch marks? So? These are lines of my wisdom, God's gift. Why should I feel that my dues haven't been paid? I have brought forth life and so I bear the scars of childbirth. As long as I am healthy I'll embrace my womanhood. Hips and all pot belly and all stretch marks and all. Hear. Hear"!!
Yes, I thought! "You hear y'all; my battle scars, to embrace and love. For they tell a story. A story of heroism and honour, of fruit and womb(a)n, of beautiful pain and wisdom. And would I choose to have it any other way? NO! Would I choose to have it all over again? Bring it On!!!!"
Wouldn't it be a pity if you missed knowing a wonderful person because their toes were a tad stubby for you? What loss would it be if you missed making a friend with an awesome person because their fingers were just too ugly, or their face too pimply, or their nose too wide. What a pity!
We need to move and live with an open mind and a more accepting sense than we do as people, and to be a little more forgiving. Given that there is really little we do to end up with petite just beautiful bodies, or smooth lick appropriate skins or just the right size nose or the just the right melanin balance of skin other than just gene jackpot?
And seeing how very diverse and different we all are makes for such a beautiful tapestry of God's creation and life itself, and with enough light for each one of us to shine in their distinct uniqueness!
It also starts with the self. Likewise folks say, only you teach people how to treat you, and though this sadly doesn't come naturally to all of us, no one is going to notice your stubby toes even if you were walking barefoot, or your larger than life nose if you presented yourself largely especially if you worked (if need be) towards being a better person. I have seen prettier people overshadowed by less appealing (in physical world form) because they shrunk instead of shine. Shine child, live this life! Okay, maybe not wear a crop top on a 36 year old crunched mid-section but live, heck, you only have one shot at this life, ain't it?
To living truly, cheers!!