#HAPPY WOMEN’S MONTH!

All Natural. Jedi Ramalapa 2014
All Natural. Jedi Ramalapa 2014

Last month my talented singer song writer sister Jenna, introduced me to Colbie Calliat. She sent me her latest song TRY, which resonated deeply with me.  The song speaks of  how women often bend over backwards  trying to achieve the perfect image; the perfect look, figure, appearance and popularity.  We think that by changing our appearance,  more people will like us ( and sometimes they do, but as a male friend of mine likes to say  it’s not  “real”).

I cried when I heard the song for the first time. It  brought with it images of my younger self trying so desperately to fit in, trying to be part of a group, trying to have friends, trying to be liked.  Trying to be “intellectual”, trying to sound sophisticated and trying to be polished, trying to be wild, trying to be loud and carefree,trying to please an imaginary crowd.  Most of the characters I chose and owned, but at the core of it, I assumed all of them because I was attempting to “fix” myself into an image of someone who people would ” like”. Until it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if the whole world loved me, what mattered  most  is if I loved myself, if I liked myself, could live alone with myself and like me once the “performance” was over.

I was inspired to create a motivational parody for women’s month –  using Colbie’s song, symbolically stripping myself of everything I wasn’t born with.  Because while it  is always wonderful and fun to try new looks,  I have observed in myself and in others  that over time we slowly begin to believe that it’s the extra hair, the make up,  the clothes, etc that makes us beautiful. We put value on accessories, costumes and fashion, on the appearance of beauty instead of spending time loving ourselves as we are (men are good at loving their natural selves). We end up feeling naked without all of these appendages.

This tendency to create an external attachment to beauty was recently  crystallized in my own life when I decided to cut off my long braids which I loved and enjoyed. I found myself having an internal struggle with myself, suddenly doubting that I could be/ find myself beautiful without them. I had received more compliments about my ” good looks” when I had long braids than at any other time with my natural hair.  I had to cut them off because I noticed that I started believing that I was beautiful because of the braids.  I found my attachment to the plastic hair  curiously disturbing, because it was not the first time I had braids, but it was the first time I had a hard time letting go of them.

I began to understand  that a head knowledge (theoretical) understanding of what self-worth and self-love is, is not the same as the actual experience of it.  i.e – I could just as easily argue that wearing braids and make-up is evidence of self-love because I am taking care of myself, making myself look nice while at the same time I could be using the same hair and make up to hide the fact that I don’t like how I look “naturally” or  without the extras. Unless we experience what loving ourselves actually means we can always hide behind theories, using them to explain why we  continue to place our worth  on external, material things.

This song helped me through that moment of insecurity, which was bizarre to me because I thought I was confident in myself i.e I am not my fake hair. I had to remember that my beauty is not without but within. I had to begin again the journey to self-love.  We spend a lot of money and time making ourselves beautiful for the world and little time loving ourselves just as we are.

Then I thought if fake hair had this effect on me after a few weeks then, many more women must be going through the same thing too ( though I do hope I’m wrong here).

In celebration of women’s month I decided to do a motivational parody  or what I call a ” selfie-performance”,  short video of my own – taking off all my  literal and metaphoric masks. Because it’s not the hair or the make up that’s in question, it is whether you can like or love yourself without it.  Hope you enjoy the video ( I didn’t expect to cry while doing it) but I am after all a woman.  The video is not edited in the spirit of “not trying too hard” and just keeping it real.

Happy Women’s Month!  Let’s love ourselves first – The rest will follow!

LOVE, YOU!

Because you’re amazing, just the way you are!

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FOR THE LOVE OF GOD: FREE PALESTINE

Advice from a Father
Advice from a Father

What more can a black, South African woman say about the Palestinian question that hasn’t been said. What more could one person or an ocean of people say to change the situation in the Middle-East when those involved will not change their minds about each other for one second.  Who can say something that would put an end to killings? When each day brings with it fresh news of freshly decimated bodies to be committed to the ground, when thousand of  people are left destitute without homes, without peace, without love. Aren’t you tired of reading about death each and everyday? The senselessness of it?  Who can silence the cries of women and children, bereaved fathers whose shrill cries echoe through loud sirens in  Israel’s capital Tel-Aviv reminding them that death is just around the corner.  Who can comfort the orphans born to be sacrificed in the name of Allah, Elohim.  Who can stop this madness when the world wakes up everyday to the un-spun truth of liberal brutality metered out by a country gripped with such fear, she can’t even see that her children are dying, she can’t see that those missiles go straight to the hearts of her unborn children.  What more can a black, South African woman say when learned historians, eloquent political analysts, informed journalists, diplomatic politicians and passionate human rights activists, have voiced their opinions, presented their arguments, shared their views with such eloquence on social and professional media platforms, condemning Israel for its ruthless annihilation of a people already cornered into a narrow cage of high walls encased in thick cement and fortified with wires –  an open air prison – with nowhere else to go while  Israel pushes them further and further into a concentration camp. What more can a black, South African Woman say while others insist with moral justification that Israel has a right, a fundamental God Given right to defend herself and her children. What more can a black South African woman say that hasn’t been said by those affected in Israel and  Gaza? What more can a black, South African Woman say? There is nothing more to say.

Except to ask one question: If God is LOVE and Love is : patient,  kind, does not envy,  does not boast,  is not proud. Does not  dishonor others, is not self-seeking,  is not easily angered,  keeps no record of wrong. If  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  If love  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. If God is LOVE: which is an intense feeling of deep affection or fondness for another person, another human being.

Which God does Israel  serve?