So a recent TWar (that’s Twitter war for those of you who aren’t as hip, happening and generally all-round cool as I am) has broken out between a TV presenter/socialite Lerato Kganyago and South Africa’s True Love Magazine.
It all went down when the magazine released its latest cover, graced by Lerato. The Twitterverse shot back, claiming the TV personality looked completely Photoshopped and unrecognisable. Lerato stepped in to say she was “disappointed” at the cover but still urged fans to go read the ‘beautiful article’ where she spoke openly for the first time about her miscarriage.
True Love Magazine, in one of the most bizarre PR moves ever… decided to release the before and after pictures of Lerato’s cover shoot in an aim to body shame her by subtlety implying that they did her a favour with the heavy-handed Photoshop.
True Love Magazine purports itself as an iconic lifestyle magazine for empowering black women. Not only was their response to their use of Photoshop vile and misconstrued, the entire debacle has drawn focus away from the gist of the article i.e. a woman speaking about her pain and triumph over grief at the loss of a child.
And while the keyboard army focusses on this latest episode of body shaming (which is essentially a type of bullying), I am thinking on a grander scale and wondering if it is possible to teach my Twincesses just how much value they hold in the world that frequently shouts women aren’t good enough.
I sit here thinking of their future, and all the times they may feel the scourge of society’s hatred towards women.
They will deal with teachers (male and female) who will undervalue them and their performance based solely on the fact that they are girls.
They will deal with obnoxious juvenile boys who have learnt from their equally obnoxious dads that girls are the weaker sex.
They will deal with horny teenage guys filled with a sense of entitlement because she wore a skirt to their first date.
They will deal with sexist office jokes and lower salaries for equal responsibility.
They may marry men who feel that chores, cooking and child-rearing duties are the ‘woman’s job’.
While these scenarios may be yet imaginary, I realise a heavy burden lies on my shoulders.
I know I have been given the great responsibility to build my girls’ self-esteems in the midst of a society that’s seems to want to tear it down.
So today, I make this promise to myself and to my daughters:
- I will instil strong values in both of them, teaching them to respect others as they demand respect in turn.
- I will let them solve problems and make decisions, even at the youngest age to instil a sense of control over their lives.
- I will teach them to speak up when they feel their needs are being dismissed I will listen to their problems without labelling them as trivial.
- I will teach them to trust their gut instincts when a situation makes them uncomfortable, and to run when the butterflies in their stomach signal something unsafe.
- I will teach them that their value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see their worth. She will know that her own, affirming voice is louder than any hater’s.
- I will teach them their worth will never be based on what they look like and to love themselves, flaws included.
- I will teach them that it’s ok to make mistakes in love but that they don’t, and never will need a man to complete them.
- I will encourage them to take risks for people and projects that set their hearts ablaze.
- I will embolden them to dream big dreams and teach them that they can be and can do whatever they set their mind to.
Above all, I will love them unconditionally so they will know – deep within themselves – that they will always have me, always on their side… NO MATTER WHAT.
In a society where an alarming number of girls (some so young it breaks your heart) are suffering from eating disorders, and turning to self-mutilation and even suicide; the responsibility to raise sound-minded, self-confident girls has never been greater. And while I may want to cry at the state of this world my daughters will grow up in, I will not be crushed under the weight of my responsibility.