“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.
When I was in grades four to seven, my prep/primary school years, I was basically bullied because of how big and fat I was. I’d also been bullied about my skin colour and I don’t even know why.
Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a white person because I’d seen how people glorify them and how everyone wants to be like them. Because of the bullying I was like, “I wish I was white. I wish my hair was silky. I wish that I had white skin so then I can be like those popular girls.” When I was in grade seven, these guys [who are] black themselves started bullying me. I don’t even know what their intention was, what their purpose was, but whenever they saw me they just instantly started bullying me. They’d keep commenting on how ugly I am, how fat I am, how black I am and saying I look disgusting and [that] I’m so black I must get away from them. Just harsh things that, of course when I was little, I would breakdown because it’s so mean. I was so young that I ended up running to the girl’s bathroom and I cried in the bathroom stall because it touched me so much. I’ve never heard such nasty things about me and yet, I’m so kind to these bullies. I’d always help them with their school work, I’d always chat to them, help them in group work, you know, I’d just be nice and they’d always bully me verbally and emotionally and it was so painful.
In high school, everything was going to be new. I started loving myself, I started loving the colour of my skin and I started becoming very confident in grade ten. That’s when I was slowly developing my confidence, my self-esteem, gaining self-love [and] gaining respect for myself.
I feel powerful in a way. I feel the power that I can just give a message to people that they mustn’t listen to what people say about them because it’s all about yourself. It’s about how you position yourself in front of people, how you can light up a person’s day just by being yourself [and] loving your own skin colour no matter how dark you are. Flex that ‘til you make it honey! Seriously! Honestly, it was painful, so painful, for me to experience such harsh people saying harsh things about my skin colour and my weight. It’s actually quite pathetic because why are you trying to destroy a person? It’s quite worthless honestly. It shows how disrespectful and awful you are. Basically my point is that self-love is everything, your skin tone is everything, just you, you’re enough, you’re perfect – imperfectly perfect and it’s just fine.
- THAPIE MQADI