“It was the happiest day of my life when I realized I was allowed to love my body”
Instagram makes me crush a lot. On girls that is. A while ago I bumped into the gorgeous Siphokazi Veti (22) from Johannesburg. She doesn’t just share beautiful pictures but she shares her beautiful mind as well. She is an accounting student and was greatly influenced by arts, that’s why she loves to write. I just had to feature Siphokazi Veti as Thursday Thunder on my blog. Get to know this lovely lady a bit better!
Can you share some insights about the relationship you have with your body?
“I’m learning now that the most sincere trust is the one that lives between me and my body. I am journeying through getting more and more comfortable with this body, rather than clinging on to dreams or expectations of what I think my body should look like. My childless child-bearing hips have spread instead from lovemaking and home cooked meals. I have more laugh lines that I ever bargained for. My face and body are changing right before my eyes, I certainly find myself more interesting to look at now then I did before any mention of self-love and I can’t wait for the years to come. Navigating the terrain of my body is a constant practice, one that requires a gentle hand, endless patience and unconditional love. I am forever discovering something new. How amazing it is to see the imprint of my life experiences on my outer shell. I look like a young woman who had a full life but still has much more to live.”
‘I grew up hating myself, and when you do that to yourself – it strips you off your self-worth and confidence’
Have you always been body positive?
“I hated my body. All the stretch marks. All the discolored spots. All the curves. All the edges. All of it. Every atom of it. I hated me. I would lie in bed every night re-imagining my body without the stretch marks on my breasts, hips and ass. I would dream about having smaller breasts and flawless skin so I wouldn’t have to worry about the bags underneath my eyes or how my breasts overflew out of my D cup. I would make up scenarios in my head of boys finally falling in love with this new improved version of me because I firmly believed that they would never fall in love with this version of me. I grew up hating myself, and when you do that to yourself – it strips you off your self-worth and confidence. You start to rely on others to approve of you because you’ll never approve of yourself. You fall into a vicious toxic circle that never ends.
Eventually, I realized that my responsibility was not to be beautiful, I am not alive for that purpose. My existence as I stand was never to be desirable to society. I grew tired of what others thought of me. This didn’t happen over night, but it was the happiest day of my life when I realized I was allowed to love my body. You see my body wasn’t made for these ridiculous body standards. I took small steps to finally reach the point where I am right now.”
Do you have a secret to (body) confidence?
“Men and society will casually speak about what women do or what we should be, almost as if they want to become one of us. Based on societal views I’ve been a lot of shameful things, but the way that self-love works, I’ve learned that confidence is knowing how to reclaim and define your own perceptions. The greatest thing in the world is knowing how to belong to oneself. Fall in love with your body, with your vessel just as deeply as you’d fallen in misery hating her. I am proud to say I am unashamed of the scenic route that brought me to realize my external light.”
‘I had to learn to appreciate and embody what it means to be a woman’
What has been your biggest challenge when it comes to body confidence?
“Remembering the intimacy my body once knew before everyone started sexualizing and policing women’s bodies because of their own demons or detachment. I had to relearn everything that I had been programmed to believe about this female body. My body used to lie in the service of trying to fit in to whatever society deemed worthy. I had to learn to appreciate and embody what it means to be a woman -a black woman-, in my figure, my mind and my soul.”
What makes you happy?
“The reasons for my happiness are never far off: my bed with a book, my mothers cooking and plenty of alone time.”
How do you deal with a less happy day?
“The journey of body love or body acceptance is not a constant one, at least not for me. I never know what the next day will bring but on days I feel like my spirit is undoing it’s love for my body, I do a number of things to come back to myself. Like not thinking twice about craving a donut because it is neither a source of shame nor pride. It’s meeting a friend and upon them telling me that I look great assume they mean my aura, my glow and not necessarily my physical appearance. It’s going to the gym because it’s the dead of winter and that’s the only way to get my body moving and I crave the feeling of my blood pumping. It’s having hot sex with my partner and not overthinking the way my ass smacks against his thighs. Above all else it’s not being embarrassed that I have fat on my body that is affected both by gravity and inertia. It’s enjoying each moment of intimacy I have with my body being comfortable.”
‘I can’t stress enough about how important it is to know that you are enough’
How do you make sure that you stay in a good place?
“I remind myself that we all bend and curve in different but beautifully indescribable ways. I’ve reclaimed my mind and brought my body right along with it. We so easily, and inevitably, get caught up in the things we don’t like about our bodies, especially the parts that we are so pressured to change. But the thing is, it’s just a body. It’s what contains you, it does not define you!”
What’s our biggest lesson when it comes to loving your body?
“When we don’t feel comfortable in our bodies — our natural bodies — we deny our spirits everything from dancing to delicious food to lustful abandon. We miss out on all the sensuality and joy that life offers. And we deserve to have it all. We can sometimes be our own biggest critics and tear ourselves apart because we don’t exist the way society prescribes. My gosh no but we are enough, I can’t stress enough about how important it is to know that you are enough.”
Best advice ever body wise?
“I read a body acceptance piece on a website called ‘Everyday Feminism’ a few mouths ago and it said: ‘Beauty doesn’t have parameters, you don’t have to be a certain way to participate’. After reading this I said: to hell with apologizing about this body, they take me as I am or they don’t – no one really cares! I embody my body, my insecurities, my thoughts and my fears. I am human yet this world will pressure you into feeling inhuman. The worlds acceptance means nothing to me.”
‘To someone I am everything and to another I may be nothing, but there is a balance in all things’
How do you deal with feedback on your body?
“It’s funny you ask this, just the other day I was walking in a shopping mall and some guy shouted out to me ‘Hey fatty’ and for a few minutes my heart sunk. No matter how many times I hear this, I can never get used to it. Recently I’ve been getting comments like: ‘If you’d just lost all the belly fat and did some squats’ – because now the struggle is to be thin enough and thick enough all at the same damn time. When I get these comments I feel like I’ve let myself down, like I have to apologize for how my body is choosing to exist. Whenever I do get negative comments I want to ask those people: Why does my body matter to you so much? When I realize that there is no good reason for people to take it upon themselves to police and stigmatize my body I remember I should walk in the light that so many -my family and friends- swear I glow by. These are the people who choose to see me as Yang when I feel Yin. To someone I am everything and to another I may be nothing, but there is a balance in all things.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
“This body is the only one you have. Love it for everything it is and everything it’s not. Change the world that seems to question and deny its existence. One day believe it or not you’ll be able to pick your own thighs out of a lineup”.
Follow Siphokazi Veti on Instagram to get inspiring updates from this wise young lady!