The journey to self-acceptance can be quite a long and winding road, and sometimes we never get to fully accept what we perceive to be our "bodily imperfections".
And who can blame us, when as young as seven we struggle with body confidence? According to the Girls' Attitudes Survey of 2016, some 40 percent of 7- to 10-year-olds said they sometimes felt ashamed or embarrassed about their bodies, with 15 percent feeling this way most of the time.
Not shocking, believes body activist and model Ashley Graham, who is of the opinion that we shouldn't look further than the families we grow up in, the society we live in and media portrayals of what's beautiful and desirable — as major contributors to how girls feel about themselves and their bodies from a very young age.
And this is exactly how some 13 women HuffPost spoke to feel. Although most of them have come to accept body features they desperately wanted to change when they were younger, they say this didn't come easily or quickly enough – and family, friends and media pressure certainly played a big role in this.
I had very dark patches between my thighs. Made me so uncomfortable, especially because I was in boarding school – and you know how mean kids can be, I struggled for the longest time with that
1. Eyenkosi Mthethwa, Durban – "body out of proportion"
"I hated being thin, and I used to pray about it a lot, especially because I knew my mom would have been proud if I looked a little fuller-bodied. I looked funny because I had bones sticking out, yet I had a big head and an oversized bum. Other kids would tease me, but in all honesty, it didn't affect me much – but it made mom so sad, so I wanted to do it so much to please her...Everything is now in proportion, lol!"
2. Londi Ngcobo, Eshowe – "acne"
I had bad acne growing up – my skin is prone to acne, and it bothered me a lot. It's not what you want to see every time you look in the mirror, every year of your teen and adult life. But at the age of 25 I just started getting fewer seasons of breakouts. Currently my skin is getting clearer with the help of vitamin supplements – and taking care of my skin every day by eating right and drinking water."
3. Darcy Mathebula, Burgersfort – "dark patches"
"I was always a chubby baby. My mom's family is quite big as well, so genetics also came in there. Because of my weight, I had very dark patches between my thighs. Made me so uncomfortable, especially because I was in boarding school – and you know how mean kids can be. I struggled for the longest time with that, until I started working in 2010, and a nurse advised me to do a simple thing – wear tights all the time. That changed my life. Also stopped the boils I would at times, because of the friction."
4. Hlonolofatso Phatudi, Cape Town – "small boobs"
"I still wish I was a 34C – wishful thinking really, for someone who nearly threw a party last year just cause she graduated from a 32A to, wait for it... 32B. It's a feeling that comes and goes really. Unlike getting a flat tummy through exercise and eating healthily, getting a big bust is a tricky one. I mean I can't think of a way of getting a bigger cup, apart from some breast enlargement surgery – which is a no-no for me."
My family used to say my head is shaped like a boy
5. ZamaNdabezitha Zulu, Nongoma – "big boobs"
"I always hated how they looked when I was young, and didn't like showing them or having them out, because their shape was weird. I [wished] they were rounder, I guess. But now I love them; they are so sexy!"
6. Lovina Dubazane, Cape Town "boy-shaped head"
"One thing I wish I could change was my hair. I always wished I had fuller and longer hair. My hair is very light, and my family used to say my head is shaped like a boy. It hasn't changed, but I've come to embrace it, hence my now short hairstyle."
7. Nyeleti Michavi, Benoni – "dark skin"
"Younger I was very dark, and I remember this one relative always used to call me ugly. So in that period, I just wanted to be a bit lighter and prettier so she could stop being nasty to me. Now, I would never ever dream of being any lighter or prettier. I guess with growing up I got to understand that I am my own me and should embrace me as I am."
8. Zama Hadebe, Empangeni – "dark skin"
"I used to think that being light in complexion was the definition of true beauty, and for a while growing up, I wished my skin was lighter than it is. But now I have made peace with that, and I've realised that what matters the most is how you feel about yourself."
9. Felicia Mulalo, Thohoyandou –"stick-thin legs"
"When I was younger, I so wished I could change my legs and make them fuller. They are so thin. My sister's body structure is like mine, and one day she came home in tights and everybody just laughed at her. And when I was alone that thing came back. This is why I've worn trousers for a long time – because I was trying to hide my thin legs. I've accepted it now and I'm happy. I've since bought two tights and now I'm trying to wear dresses and skirts. People have been complimenting me, saying I must wear more of these clothes."
10. Khotsofalang Nhlapo, Fourways – "big bum"
"For me it was different things at different ages really. I was too thin when I was younger, and then my buttocks were too big and my lips were too small. Now my midsection is too big, but I am sure I will get over that as well."
I still do wish I was slim, I won't lie – but what can I say?
11. Sibongile Hlongwa, Mandeni – "height"
"I wished I was just bit taller, because I'm very short – shorter than the average short. You know, people would call me shorty and it would annoy me, I won't lie. And you won't believe how I've prayed for my little girl to be taller, because I know how it feels. And I was so happy when she told me she's number 3 (in order of tallness) at the school queue when they are at assembly... But now I've accepted it, and I'm fine with it."
12. Mabongi Khoza, Mahlabathini – "weight"
"What can I say? I'm fine I suppose, but I still feel I'm too fat. I was a big baby and always the bigger one at primary and high school. My two pregnancies just made it worse. I still do wish I was slim; I won't lie – but what can I say? Some days I think I'm fine with it, and then I see myself in the mirror and wish certain bits were smaller."
13. Yoliswa Mncwango, Durban – "thick thighs"
"I wished for thinner thighs and felt my thick thighs deserved some slicing down. And sometimes I still feel that way. Maybe it's also because I have wide hips — I'm what people call pear shaped. It's been very frustrating to shop, for example, but you learn to accept your body. And I hear now cool kids say thick thighs save lives, so I'm all for it, lol."