11/05/2017 06:14 SAST | Updated 06/07/2017 10:36 SAST

Accepting And Even Appreciating Your Weight Can Be So Liberating

Let's break free of the small-minded shackles of fat shaming.

The cast of "She Died Dreaming": Nomsa Buthelezi, Kelly Khumalo, Linda Sebezo and Zama Ngcobo.
Gallo Images
The cast of "She Died Dreaming": Nomsa Buthelezi, Kelly Khumalo, Linda Sebezo and Zama Ngcobo.

"Our Perfect Wedding" presenter, Nomsa Buthelezi, during her recent debut episode commented on how pleasantly surprised she was by people giving feedback on her presenting skills, instead of her figure. "Look, people forgot about my big belly and flabby arms and they just saw my personality and my talent," she is reported to have said.

Buthelezi's concerns are not unique to women who are voluptuous, overweight and/or obese. Actually, some in the mental health profession have coined this the weight bias internalisation phenomenon, which is self-directed shaming and negative weight-related attitudes and stereotypes about oneself.

American psychiatrist Dr Fredric Neuman notes that over the years, women who have come to therapy sessions apologise for looking fat and unappealing and at other times tell him that they know the three pounds they lost the past Friday make a difference. Neuman believes this shows the preoccupation some women have with weight and how they are perceived, without even being asked.

Writing on obesity and discrimination, doctors Rebecca Puhl and Kelly Brownell say: "Despite social movements for self-acceptance among overweight people, relatively few people favourably identify themselves as overweight or obese. Rather, many feel that being fat is a stigmatising experience, one that limits social and economic opportunities.

But this does not have to be the case.

It is now time, as Kelly Diels says in her research about the negative impact of fat shaming in The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand, "to make it clear that it's not you, it's the world you're living in. It's the world that has to change." The Canadian Obesity Network even suggests a few helpful ways this can happen.

Already, it is a lot of self work to overcome weight issues. South African blogger, Nomali Cele, when writing about what she calls her "self acceptance journey" says she has since taken small steps in loving herself and accepting that "whether in size 40 or 46 jeans, I am worthy, lovable, funny, smart and an interesting woman."

As Freshlyground aptly put in one of their songs: "Even though I have fat thighs, flabby arms, a pot belly still gives good loving." And might we add, deserves good loving too.