“It is not necessary to fix every little defect you find in yourself. Your flaws are what make you unique and oftentimes, infatuating.” – Beau Taplin, The Defects
It's been quite a while since I added to our wonderful 'The Skin Revolution' campaign. However, the stories and encouragement are back for your perusal. Part III deals with a universal issue: bullying. Bullying manifests in many equally ugly forms. Thapie shares her childhood encounters of racial discrimination, fat-shaming and bullying in South Africa.
We’re only three days away from the end of the month which means the first half of 2017 is done and dusted! Well nearly. Also, the end of June means the end of Youth Month.
The youth of 1976 endured a lot to say the least. Youth Day did not come about to be a passing trend. It came about to commemorate the incredible power of youngsters who would not allow any person, government or system to make them feel less than.
I did a little thinking, between my study breaks, about this month and the immense power behind the story of June 16. And one question that is raised constantly in a lot of people’s minds is: Do the youth of today still have a fiery, fighting spirit against injustice?
Is there more to our generation than filters on Snapchat and Rap that is incomprehensible? Is there more to us than posting pictures of R5 000 shoes that we bought but can barely afford? Is there more to us than the fake personas we put on for people that don’t care about us anyway? Is there more to us?
Well I think so. I mean, of course there are many, many people in our generation who simply don’t care about anything except selfies and followers. Albeit the rest of us care about our rights. We want to see the final demolition of discrimination. We want equal access to education. We want representation in the media. We want to protect our cultures from capitalists. We want equal opportunities in the work world. And the ‘rest of us’ actually fight for it.
Fees Must Fall. Data Must Fall. Black Lives Matter. Anti-Islamophobia. Pride marches. 16 Days of Activism. Just a few movements that should ring a bell to you. Our liberalist generation fights against discrimination of all forms using a formidable form of communication – social media. Social media allows awareness of so many issues to be heard and spread. Minorities are finally given a voice and photographic evidence of injustice can be shared by a tap on your screen.
We may not always consciously think about our fearless predecessors of 1976 but when we do, it’s evident that their diligent attitude towards fighting for their beliefs trickled down into the views of the South African youth today.
PHOTOGRAPHER: VIDAL THAVER
"This is my skin and I’m always going to be in this skin so I’m going to love it."
The majestic concept of being mixed-race. They get the best of both worlds. Or maybe the best of three. Or four. Or five. However, along with perks of being multiracial there are many mixed-race people around the world who feel lost in connection to tradition and culture. This post is centered on the almost never-shared point of view of the average, completely mixed-race person. Jahaan tells us about her good and bad experiences of being very multiracial.
I’m… wow, I don’t know how many races – I’m super mixed-race. [I have] family and grandparents from Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Netherlands – it’s so funny and so weird. I always hated being so mixed. I always just wanted to be like, ‘I am German’ or whatever, but now I truly think it’s cool to have so many different backgrounds.
I went to the Al Bairre concert recently and we went to go sit down in front of this group of people so that we could be closer to the stage. Then this boy was like, “Look at these f***ing disgusting coloureds. They think they can do whatever they want and that they own this place.” They literally spoke [badly] about me and my friend and how disgusting and ‘coloured’ we are for like an hour. Maybe more. I wanted to say something but I didn’t want to start any drama, you know? I’m just here to have a good time and watch a band just like you. I have every right to be here, just like you do and you’re not better than me.
I have one great, great grandfather that was black and nobody [in the family] showed traits of being a black person. But for some reason, I’m the only one in my family that has curly, thick hair. My mother tried her best to tame it down and everyone says that I’m the one that looks most like him. I feel like everyone used to try and make me feel really bad about it, like how unmanageable my curls were. Now I wish my hair was still that curly to hold onto that part [of me]. I don’t think having a black great, great grandfather is anything to be ashamed of. I think it’s really cool.
On my dad’s side, everyone is really pale and they all have green or blue eyes or something along those lines. You know, pretty eyes. I always used to feel super [bad] about the way I look with my tan skin and brown eyes because I just felt like it was so plain compared to them. I’m still trying to let myself realise that just because my eyes are not ‘colourful’, just because my eyes are not blue or green [that] doesn’t mean they’re not pretty.
I’ve really started embracing my skin. I started embracing that I have super blotchy skin. It’s always going red and blotchy, and I get rashes easily. The red blotchiness – I hated that, but now I’m like whatever. This is my skin and I’m always going to be in this skin so I’m going to love it.
- JAHAAN ISRAEL
"Allow your melanin to pop."
Many children go through teasing and torment from family or friends for being different. Some children don't directly get teased although feel sidelined. Chanice discusses this from a point of view relating to skin tones.
Growing up with brown skin hasn't always been that great.
Having brown skin wasn't really a problem in the earlier years of my life. When you're in grade R, children don't really bother with the way you look, the colour of your skin or the way you dress. I could say that having more melanin in me has always been okay with me, but I'd be lying.
There were days when I'd feel bad because I felt as though I was the black sheep of the family - literally. I'd stand out in every family picture because of my "dark skin". This used to bother me at first because people would always ask if my sister and I are biologically related. She's a ginger [with] green eyes, freckles and is a sort of tan colour, whereas I on the other hand have brown everything: brown skin, brown hair, brown eyes etc.
Reaching my early teenage years I always believed that the lighter you are the better, seeing that that's the message that the media portrayed. I started to despise my skin tone because "this top won't look right on me because I'm brown". Through this I learned that certain colours compliment my skin tone more. I always remember how inferior I felt to anybody lighter than me it was as if I owed them something.
I recently started loving myself with my flaws and I can honestly say that that was one of the best decisions I've made. Loving yourself is the greatest revolution and I am making my way up to the top. Being brown is really not a burden. Allow your melanin to pop.
- CHANICE ISAACS
As a young girl I would be embarrassed to wear traditional wear or anything that was "too Indian" in public. I grew up consuming Western culture and therefore thought that I should be ashamed of mine. It took me years to realise there's no such thing as "too Indian". Maybe you're too much for some people. Too unique, too empowered, too celebratory of yourself for their liking but that has nothing to do with you, and has everything to do with them. I was born into a magnificent culture and cherish the day I realised this.
The above is an exert from a caption I wrote on Instagram for Heritage Day last year.
Like many people of colour, I grew up not feeling completely comfortable in my skin. During the process of creating my blog, I vowed to myself that I would create an online space of inclusivity and embrace people and things that I felt weren't showcased in mainstream media.
I aim to live up to that promise with a little post thread that I will be starting. As you can tell by the title, the post thread will be called 'The Skin Revolution' and will put a spotlight on the trials, tribulations, experiences and power of skin.
I will be posting authentic testimonials from different people who want to share their stories about being in their skin.
If you would like partake in this post thread, please send an email to email@example.com
Peace and love,
If the paint is our emotions and the paintbrush is our way of handling obstacles, then we as people, are defined by the artistry performed in everyday life.
Self-conflict, in my opinion, is the most wonderful feeling any human being could experience. We are all artists, we all feel, we all need to express ourselves and be heard, therefore the ideas generated from conflict could be the masterpiece that lies in your mindset and attitude.
Conflict is what young aspiring artists like myself face when being intimidated by the blankness of a canvas. Through channelling all the pressure from peers, parents and society's expectations, every brushstroke can be described as a 'dream come true'. Layers of paint applied smoothly displays synchronisation between mind, body and soul. After each stroke of paint, things seem to fall into place again.
In order to master a talent, you must have the passion and will to rule over it. This drive results in you becoming a grandmaster, not just with your gift, but in your life as well. By mastering every day obstacles, you are basically taking control of your own life which is proof that if things don't magically fall into place, you have to make it so. After all, a priceless artwork doesn't just appear on a canvas, it is applied by a paintbrush which is controlled by the artist him-/herself.
Eliminate the people who ridicule your potential and focus on making a name for yourself through an attitude of confidence with the mindset of a winner. We feel unsure of ourselves because our emotions drive us. All we as human beings want is to expose our true emotions to feel accepted or loved by other humans. And when we do free ourselves through expression, we do not realise it, but we create our own sanctuary and increase our individuality.
In art, German Expressionism is world renowned for the subject matter of individualism. Today many people experience a need to try their best to fit in, only to realise in the end they don't need to. They are perfect just as they are. This ability is what truly makes us ordinary people and extraordinary artists.
- BEVAN BLANKENBERG
"This world of ours is in an authenticity drought."
At seven years old I didn't think there was much wrong with my physical appearance. Sure, I had about three missing teeth and an awful left knee due to all the scabbing (Hopscotch is not for the weak), but I was content with how I looked. Though as a child, I was taught that my genes were just not good enough.
With the apprehension that children only know what they have been exposed to, it is safe to blame the majority, if not all, of our generation's misfortune unto our parents, leaders, teachers and older siblings. We're taught that touching a hot stove will burn you, that you should always respect your elders and that certain features just don't fit in in the real world.
You are absolutely capable of thriving in our ruthless society regardless of your looks. The only way to do this though, is to love yourself. Paying no mind to the inevitable insults from those around you is of utmost importance. After realising this, we need to educate our successors. Rather than promoting impossible standards, promote authenticity. We're the most powerful generation - that's what they don't want you to know. They continue to strive because of the flaws we see in ourselves.
You might be playing coy right now, questioning who "they" are but I'm talking about everyone from that girl on Facebook that gets ten more likes than you to renowned comestic brands. This year, the total revenue of the United States comestic industry is estimated to be $62.46 BILLION which is nearly twice as much as the total of 2002. I'm not trying to influence anyone to boycott make-up, I just think that it is due time that we realise that it is not a necessity - you are beautiful in your own way.
I hated being told that - "beautiful in your own way" - to me it sounded like a euphemisim for "ugly" but now I notice the truth behind it. None of my friends had the dark skin and curly hair combination going on but I did. Recognising your individuality also teaches you how you can't be replaced.
Along with the importance of self-love, is the common knowledge to respect people who want to follow trends. I'm on a journey of bettering my confidence so make-up does in fact give me that extra va va voom. In fact, I'm currently saving up to purchase the Mary Jo K Kylie Jenner lipkit. Not everybody wakes up 'like dis' and there is no right or wrong way of loving yourself. The ultimate goal is to wake up not wanting to be in somebody else's shoes.
Embrace YOU. I wish I was told that when I was seven. I already did not love myself enough. Embrace your intimidating tallness, your bushy eyebrows, your basic brown eyes. This world of ours is in an authenticity drought. We need more people who are comfortable in their own skin.
Love yourself so much that it won't matter if you're not a size 2 or if you just can't seem to relate to posts about 'thick' girls. I mean, you have the power to love yourself enough where it won't matter if anybody else doesn't. And that, is magical.
- GIA FYNN