In 2014, I made the colossal mistake of posting my private life online. From my poes to my prayers have found semi-virality in some shape or form, and lately, my shape and form are under scrutiny.
A couple of weeks ago, I revealed in a Facebook post, somewhat jokingly, that because of my bipolar highs and lows, I have taken to baking when I am manic.
Before. I would direct this rush of energy into binge drinking and falling pregnant, so I see the progression of me now channeling my jasgyt into confectionery items as a definite step into maturity.
Yes, this would have been more of a win had I not been infected with herpes first, but as I have mentioned, ‘Viral’ is now just part of my story.
Regardless, since taking that first shot of ‘public admiration’ all those years ago, I have been a ‘functioning post-aholic’, and have managed to let my addiction spill over into my new life.
My Instagram ‘Feed’ is 90% Food.
Food I make.
Food I obsessively photograph.
Food I eat.
And the question of how one maintains a healthy body while eating the way I do has come up several times, from several well-meaning people who of course feel concerned about my digestive health, I assume so strongly, that they feel the need to do constant check-ups and interventions. Interventions being sharing links to PDF downloads about Banting, veganism and Anorexia hacks.
To answer your question in short, folks… One does not.
But we all know I am long-winded.
By my obvious digestive distress. (Fart jokes will always be funny)
So here is my answer in long:
My relationship with my body is probably the most abusive one I have ever had. Now, as I always say, mostly to avoid those annoying middle aged white kinnes who like to rol me in comment sections, I can only speak from my own perspective; I want to tell you what it was like growing up as a woman, of colour, with a kroes-kop and a fat stomach, in the early 90s to early 2000s.
It was kak.
I have touched on it before (ironically, the boys from the early 2000s said the same thing), but to elaborate, the way women who looked like me were allowed to be treated way back then, would leave a bitter taste in a modern day Keyboard warrior’s mouth.
This, unrelated to the point of my post, is in large part to why I sought affection from any Dick,Dick and Dick.
(Yes, because of my large parts).
Our curves were not embraced.
Nicknames like “Gigantor, Bokhol and the likes were commonplace. As a girl who was always taller than the others, being fat was shameful and unladylike.
I, and many other females who did not look like the SpiceGirls or Victoria’s secret models were overshadowed by the tiny, smaller girls.
These little women/girls were preferred by the boys, by the magazines… and to be honest, I preferred them.
In Grade 4, My Primary School did a very bad adaptation of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, and quite literally made all the popular, beautiful girls the reindeer for the white queen, and the fat girls were the peasants who attacked her while singing “Turkish Delight”.
At the time, the aesthetic made sense.
Nobody would believe a fat reindeer would be pulling a sleigh, especially not in Narnia.
This unspoken reason behind the school’s choices was one of the many things that made me hate my unpopular body type.
Throughout my teens, my weight fluctuated.
I had very thin days, which made me feel accomplished, but nervous to eat. Then, what I now recognise as bouts of depression would have me binge eating and ‘enjoying die lekker lewe’, so much that my Jahaan pants wouldn’t surpass my knees.
Post Matric, I noticed that my thin days moved from being occasional, to being a distant memory.
From around my second year at AFDA Film School, I gained weight steadily, and constantly. I survived on a diet of Big Macs and Black Labels, and didn’t understand how the other girls could practice such self-control, while studying in a student-life targeted suburb (observatory).
Little did I realise that normal people ate in moderation and exercised.
I come from an old school, fat, coloured family.
We eat for every occasion and emotion.
Let’s go to spur.
Let me make you a dite.
I wasn’t really encouraged to do any sort of sport, because then my parents would have to take me and fetch me, and the audacity of me to want to participate would be afshowerag.
So when I came home from school, I would lam on the couch, watch Ricky Lake, drink cool drink, skommel before my mommy got home and eat a 4-blader sandwich.
I am sofa king relatable.
I also just ate whatever was cooked at home.
I am not sure if anyone’s family was like mine, but saying “I am not hungry” was a punishable offense.
“Fok jy weer met diets?”
“Het jy by jou chommies gevriet? Sies”.
“Hoekomie? Is jy pregnant?”.
Now, take everything I say with a pinch of salt. I know that nobody really cares about what I am eating, I am merely showing the amount of insecurity I think women battle with daily.
Right now, at 98kgs, I feel happy with my body, and for the first time, I don’t feel the need to make an excuse about why I am a little fatter than usual.
I do however think that we need to be mindful of what we say to people about their food choices, and overall shape.
Yesterday, I accompanied my father to several places, and when I say accompanied, I mean I chauffeured him around while he berated my driving. This is how we have bonded for the last decade, he insults me, he buys me food, we do it again in a few weeks.
On one of our stops, we popped in at my only surviving grandparent’s home, and I walked in after months of avoiding that side of the family.
“Haai, jy’t nogals bietjie maarderer geword” she greeted.
This was both a perceived greeting and a compliment.
And I immediately regressed into that fat child, sitting with my thinner, Afrikaans, underprivileged cousins, trying so desperately to fit in by smiling about everything.
“Thank you ma. That’s so nice of you. I am trying”.
At 6 months post pregnancy, the dreams I had of fitting into my 2017 leggings are slowly fading like… well, my 2017 leggings.
When I was carrying Scarlett in my womb, I would eat as the cravings came, reassuring myself that once I was no longer merrie-lyf, I would eat healthily and by Christmas 2018 I would have a merry lyf.
I am not trying.
November 15th 2018
I am leaned back so far in my computer chair that my double chin seems to be writing this. And I am looking at my InstaFeed and the comments, as I eat the biltong I stole from my daddy.
My husband is a huge factor in why I have stopped attempting crash diets.
Hear me out, Feminazis, please.
Now, in our marriage this man has seen me in every possible way, angle, and emotion. I have been thin in pretty dresses, and I have been two minutes post c-section, lying with un-tweezed tits out in a government hospital bed.
I have had a head full of curls, and I have shaven my head from depression. He has even seen me blonde, which is a testament to how much he loves me.
And at every instance, he has taken the time to explain to me how beautiful I am, and how he is willing to ravish me if I just say the word.
But he isn’t what keeps me from abusing my body.
Many may not see the impact that the movement to embrace all body types has made for women like myself.
The fact that for the most part, us fat chicks can now show our bodies in bikinis, can show our stretch marks, and can post the food we are eating, without shame has all helped me slowly baby-step into the skin of confident Shana.
And that feels lekker.
Yes, I still eat as healthy as I can and practise self- care, but I feel a little less kak about going on my ‘treatyoself’ escapades, mostly when my budget allows.
In conclusion; Instagram is a very useful tool.
In my industry, we use it for promotion, brand awareness, socialising with likeminded professionals and a place to store portfolios.
Most of us, however, use it to show pictures of our food.
I am a slave to the instafoodporn family, even with comments like:.
“Uhm, Do you bake like this every day?”
“You always complain about your weight, but carbs are bad girl!”
And all I can think is “wat soek my koek in jou bek”.
I feel like people think because I am a bit chubby, I don’t deserve a piece of cake.
They are denying me the joy of biting into a ganache covered death by chocolate, double layered, homemade slice of happiness.
Just look at them.