Gugu Zwane’s #LoveYourBodySeries Story

I’ve always avoided conversations about being fat. I never wanted to be one of those fat girls who were staunch advocates of plus-size women.

You know, the fat girls who are always talking about being fat, those who talk about fat girl issues and defending big girls at every chance they get. I never wanted to be one of them and I’ve avoided having to be that girl.

I felt like the more we treat being fat similar to how we treat homosexuality, colourism, albinism or anything else that’s considered to fall under ‘the other’ umbrella, we give people reasons to continue to discriminate against us. I believed that if I saw myself as normal and carried myself as such, then people would treat me as normal too. And honestly, for the most part of my life, people do treat me as normal. For the other part, I grew numb to people who fat shamed me. It only hurt most when the people closest to me would shame me for being fat. At the time of this decision to refuse to be classified as fat, I thought I was promoting that everyone should see me as normal; when actually I just did not want to be seen.

I was hiding.   

It’s only now that I see the importance of being body positive and celebrating myself as I am – a fat girl. It’s only now that I see the damage that I inflicted onto myself by ignoring the fact that I am fat. I didn’t appreciate or see myself for who and how I am, instead I avoided the mirror and imagined myself to look like other people; the likes of Brandy, Monica and Aaliyah. These were the idols I grew up watching on TV. They were women who had the body image of what was considered to be normal and acceptable by society then, so that’s who I wanted to be.

I see now how avoiding the fact that I am fat has been toxic to my self-esteem and confidence. It’s only now that I’m unlearning that behaviour, accepting that I am not normal and that it is okay to be seen as fat. I am fat and it’s a part of my identity; an identity I do not wish to change if I’m truly being honest with myself. Thanks to growing up I am now able to appreciate myself for the way that I am. I’m so glad that fat girls of this generation have plus-size women like Lizzo and Gabi that look like them and that they can idolise. They don’t have to wait to grow up to see themselves as valid and beautiful. Even though fat shaming is still a reality we face every other day in our lives, at least now society is slowly but surely integrating the idea that it is okay to be different, it is okay to be fat.

I have dated guys who did not see fat. It’s like people who say they don’t see colour. I’ve come to realise that I don’t want someone who doesn’t see that I am fat, or someone who chooses to ignore the fact that I am fat. I want someone who’s going to love me and want to be with me because I am fat. And I’m not talking about people who fetishize fat people, but someone who has a real appreciation and attraction for fat women. I am now able to distinguish the difference between someone who doesn’t care that I am fat and someone who loves me because I am fat.

After my therapy session I realised that I needed to go back to my childhood, find out where I missed a step where my self-esteem and confidence was concerned. I need to nurse those childhood wounds of self-hate, self-shame and start to see myself for who I am and love myself from there. It’s clear now that I’ve spent a big chunk of my childhood years not acknowledging myself and not loving myself for who I am and that is now showing in my adulthood years.

I’m never the most confident person in the room, and strangely enough, people can see that. And here I was thinking I was in hiding. I’ve had a number of instances where people would even ask me if I knew that I was beautiful because I looked like I didn’t know it, or rather, I just didn’t believe it. I’m that girl who can’t take a compliment from anyone, I’ll make a joke out of it, make light of the compliment or change the subject. Though it may appear that I have a low self-esteem or low self-confidence to many, it really is just me not wanting to be seen. I know I still have some work to do on myself. There’s more digging to be done.

However, what’s certain is that there will be no more hiding, there will be no more trying to be or appear to be normal, and there will be no more imagining myself to look like someone else but to see myself as I am.

It’s time to pour love into my inner child and grow self-love from there.

Where can we find you? Blog Twitter: @GuguZwane_

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