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You Do You

Meet three women determined to make you love yourself

BY Yaza South Africa Team

Feb 24, 2021, 05:21 PM

Have you ever felt that you're not good enough? Not smart enough? Not thin enough? Not rich enough? If so you're not alone.

Meet three women who are here to change how you feel about yourself and challenge our perceptions of beauty and strength along the way. 

Amanda Nchukana

Amanda Nchukana
"I grew up very bubbly and full of life, love, and laughter and I've always been a chubby child. When I reached my teen years I gained even more weight and people made fun of me all the time. I became insecure and always hid my body.

"As a Black, thick girl, from a young age, people made me feel less of a child. I grew up faster than most girls and was seen as too “grown-up” within my community and family because of my body and my features. I was constantly defensive and always found myself being the topic of conversation amongst my peers, neighbors and even family. It felt like everyone always had something to say about my weight, my height, my hair or how grown up I looked.

"I learned to deal with these comments in my twenties, however, when I turned 21 I made a decision to block out the negativity and the bullies. I had to learn that self-love is everlasting love and it starts with self-acceptance.
"I honestly don't think enough representation is put out there. When I first heard of the #bodyposivitymovement I saw a lot of women who look like me and it made me feel like "wow on social media I have a safe space", but the more I looked into I realized that it came off as a fat acceptance movement and less like a body-positive movement. Everyone has a body so why aren't we showcasing more people who are burn survivors  or paraplegic etc? I guess I still feel that more needs to be done. Showcasing plus-size people in the media is a small step

"I would describe myself as quirky and confident with a sprinkle of sass and so to me, being an inspiration means helping others overcome whatever they need to overcome so that they can be who they were born to be. It means helping others live their truth."

Sherri Andreas

Sherri Andreas
"Growing up for me was interesting, I’m naturally shy and reserved so I struggled to make friends. I was also timid, small, skinny, sickly, with a flat nose, ‘kroes hair’, and all these things often made me a target of bullying. Our family did move a few times in my younger days and so I was also always new and different in social settings. I actually now suffer from social anxiety which I think is a result of my childhood and always being left out or picked last.
 Being different everywhere I went really made it harder. My parents are both from very different backgrounds and so even from a family perspective I was different from the extended family. My dad being a military man meant we moved a lot too, so I didn’t always fit in and just always got excluded - for example, because I was Cape coloured in a white Pretoria neighbourhood, or because I was the only girl who could not speak a Bantu language in an all-Black school, or I spoke good English but when we went to visit family everyone else spoke Afrikaans and thought I was ‘showing off’.

"When I left South Africa for the first time and went to an international school in Côte D’ivoire where suddenly (unlike in my native SA) I was now considered beautiful, exotic-looking, and people were so interested in my heritage was when I finally embraced how absolutely unique I am with this greatly mixed background in so many different ways, culturally and physically. Seeing how my parents struggled to get me and so many young people education and exposure to a life outside of where our circumstances started us off in life - made me realise that you can choose your life story. Some people have a tough past and keep living that way - and then people like my parents have a tough past and they do everything to overcome it leaving behind them a string of inspired young people who believe in their own capabilities. So that’s been my vibration ever since, pushing against all odds to reach my goals regardless of my physical appearance or my disadvantaged past.
"These days with digital media we are being exposed constantly to a sometimes very toxic narrative about who we are as women and what we should aspire to be. So it’s important for bigger brands and the media to champion initiatives as it’s an opportunity to actually make the differences we as women feel are necessary to allow us all to be, love and accept ourselves as we are. For this to happen there just has to be more representation, more authenticity, more positivity all around.
"I mean there can always be more change for good in this world. But I think we are headed in some respects in a more positive direction. Even though social media has its downfalls I also see with the access that we have to create our own stories using online media, that there are so many brave souls out there, taking a leap of faith and putting themselves out there for other people like them to connect with. I follow and support so many small authentic female brands and businesses with great stories who did not have to ‘be like the rest of the internet’ to make a difference to those around them. 
I can best be described through my spirit animal the ladybug; a ladybug is small, feminine and colourful; its symbolism centered around positivity and happiness, so when a ladybug shows up it brings with it a good omen, and because it leads a vibrant and colourful life, it influences you to experience the joys of living to the fullest.
"I’d like to teach young women who are still trying to find themselves how important, valued, and special they are. And how they can lead a positive and happy life free from anxiety, depression or low self-esteem by being themselves unapologetically and focusing on their purpose in life."

Tumi Matela

Tumi Matela
"I suffered from depression growing up because I was bullied for being someone that spoke English a lot and would never wear my natural hair. That really affected my self-esteem because I felt I was not good enough or could never fit in with the other kids at school. Being exposed to the pageant world at a very young age can put a lot of pressure on you to be perfect and that also affected me at some point in my life because when I would not win, I would think I'm not good enough both emotionally or personality-wise.

"I hid that a lot from friends and family and pretended as though everything was okay. Until they realised that I was not okay. I would encourage family and friends to check in on the people around you and ensure they are REALLY okay. It is very easy for one to carry a facade.

"I learned to deal with everything after high school and really had to understand that no one is perfect and it all starts with you. It starts with looking at yourself and appreciating the things you love about yourself and what are the things you want to work on. So much happens in life that it would require you to change or grow, take each shift as it comes.

The media plays a big role in how we see ourselves fitting in society. We consciously and unconsciously compare ourselves to the "perfect" images of people we see in magazines, commercials, films, and social media. However, I think it sits with you on how you want to look at things. It can either break your self-esteem or help you improve your self-esteem. Conversations are had daily on how we should love ourselves as women, even though society will always have a say in these things, but it is our responsibility as women to continue this march on how we should be represented, loved and accepted and men should come to the table too.

"I am a hard-working and driven individual who isn't afraid of trying new things and living life to the fullest. I am doing the best I can do and I try to encourage people around me to want to do the same. If I can make people feel good, I know I am doing something right."

Amanda, Sherri & Tumi are all part of the BIC Soleil Squad - click here for more information