Girls With Curls

Nappyversary*, shrinkage**, BC***, LOC****. Just some of the many terms that have become part of my natural hair discourse since dumping the ‘creamy crack’ (chemical relaxers) and, literally and figuratively, embracing my roots twelve years ago.

1-Fullscreen capture 20160829 12715 PMI had started researching issues of slavery, oppression, Apartheid, class and race for my third year mini-thesis “Representations of ‘Coloured’ Women on Stage”. The bigger issues are too much to go into here. But the scales fell from my eyes as I realised that centuries of societal conditioning, no pun intended, had me hating my hair as it grew out of my scalp! I saw within my own community how beauty and worth in women were directly linked to the straightness of their hair and European features, rather than the naturally kinky-curly hair and African/Creole features.

Well, this all kicked off my personal revolution. I ‘returned’ to my natural hair, giving up the seasonal chemical trip to the hairdressers, the weekly rolling in and blowing out of hair, and wearing a swirlkouse at night (pantyhose cut and tied, swirled around the hair and used to hold the straightness overnight). I also gave up being scared of getting my hair wet or even close to mist or inclement weather, lest it mince (frizz)! I started to acknowledge or try to understand all my cultural roots and those of ‘my people’. More importantly, I started to care about what I thought about MY hair, not others’ opinions.

I officially entered the entertainment industry a year later in a tribute show where my fabulous, new afro shouted out my debutante arrival! At castings, I was usually the only brown girl with hair like mine. Walking around my hometown of Cape Town, I’d get asked if I was Brazilian or American – so strange was it to see someone embracing their natural hair. Acquaintances or old family friends would brazenly ask when I was going to “sort my hair out”. Other female friends dealt with family or partners telling them they looked ugly with their natural hair.

Fast forward to the present day and the world at large is seeing a move to people of colour loving themselves as is! The Natural Hair Movement is part of that revolution as more and more women are seen sporting their natural afros and curls, from business to the government. Natural hair salons are sprouting up all over, tailor-made products are everywhere and the myriad of supportive natural hair forums make it so much easier for the women of colour who choose to embrace it.

So, aluta continua, Naturalistas!”

*The anniversary of going natural
**When the curl coils up on itself when it’s dry, making your hair appear shorter than when wet
*** Big Chop, cutting off all chemically-treated hair
****Liquid, Oil, Cream – a combo of products to get the curls popping

You can reach Chantal Stanfield on:

Twitter – @chantalstan

Instagram – @chantal.stanfield

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories.

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

For some reason, I can still touch my toes.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall
Sometimes I don’t like what I see in you at all…”

30 years ago, I don’t think I had a clear idea of what my body looked like. I might have envied some of the lithe, swan-necked “It-girls” who floated ethereally around campus, but I was too busy stomping my way angrily out of the horror movie that had been my childhood.

Sandy
Taken in the States in late 1993. I thought I was obese! If only I was as fat now, as I thought I was then!

My body was merely a container that transported me, took my brain to lectures, helped me emote my way through my drama classes and tried to stay awake nights at the security phone-bank job that was essential to my financial survival. As to what it looked like, that was somewhat irrelevant.

My wardrobe staples were tracksuits and takkies. My other uniform consisted of a voluminous ankle-length skirt, a much-loved hand-me-down from a distant relative that I would pair with one of two holy thrift-store sweaters. My boyfriend would beg me to let him dress me, to not hide my body (no surprise that he’s now the co-owner of the largest costume hire company in Southern Africa – and married to a man), but I had no interest.

I remember being in a production that went to Grahamstown and then months later, travelled to the Market Theatre. Someone who’d seen me in both cities, came to comment on how much weight I’d lost in the time between, and all I could do was stare at them as if they were insane. I’d had absolutely no idea. Weight didn’t factor into my concept of self. My terrible twin/best friend with whom I was joined at the hip since first-year drama-school, suffered from anorexia and my idea of trying to help her get over it, was to eat for her. I was aware of her losing the hair on her head and sprouting it on her forearms instead, but personally, I was never one for scales, and obviously lacked a certain self-awareness.

Somewhere along the line, that changed. Maybe it coincided with my move to the States, becoming a gym-rat and trying to start a career in Hollywood, but somehow a scale made it’s way into my bathroom and its daily fluctuations began to rule my reality. I had a recurring role on a show called “City of Angels” with Blair Underwood and Viola Davis (yes, THAT Viola), and I recall going to Vancouver during the shoot, and enjoying a lovely meal which was rounded off (pun intended) with dessert. The meal was barely over before I was overcome with an attack of anxiety so profound that I promptly found the nearest treadmill to try and run away from the calories I’d just ingested. I firmly believed that that one meal would stop me from fitting into my character’s wardrobe after the weekend.

So, many years and BMI extremes later (including, dropping below 48kg during times of emotional duress), I’m living proof that diets don’t work. I’ve Master-cleansed and eaten lean, taken pills and gone to the gym twice daily. A few years ago the Dukan Diet helped me to shed 10kgs for a movie, and I managed to keep it off for a long time. However, after this last year where my regular running sessions fell victim to frequent sinus infections, bouts of bronchitis, multiple courses of antibiotics, cortisone, sessions of nebulizing, etc, and a final diagnosis of Asthma, most of those 10 kilos have snuck back and I find myself middle-aged and sporting the dreaded middle-age-spread. And the only thing firm about me, is my belief that diets don’t work.

sandi 1
Sandi Schultz

I need to start the uphill climb back to health, so together with starting chronic asthma meds, a few weeks ago, I restarted my yoga practice and I’ve been on my mat between 4 and 5 times a week ever since. I, who once trained for rollerblade marathons, taught cardio-kick classes and could effortlessly touch my toes (okay, for some reason, I can still touch my toes), felt like I was going to die. My belly-rolls compressed painfully into my chin, felt like an elephant sitting on my chest and made it impossible to breathe. Every joint creaked and complained, and yet, I kept going back. I show up and keep my eyes and my practice on my mat. Now, less than a month later, I am amazed at how our bodies forgive us for our multitude of sins. I do what I can and I thank this body for giving me a chance at a do-over. And an interesting thing is happening. I haven’t really lost weight, but I’m stronger. I’m standing taller, stretching deeper and each day I become more flexible as I listen to what my body wants. I can now do headstands, those shoulder-stands aren’t nearly as impossible, and my breath-capacity is increasing.

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that for most of the last 20 years, when I’ve weighed more, I’ve felt less than. I feel so much better about myself when I’m leaner. My clothes fit better. I feel confident, even sexy. I’m not comfortable when I’m “coloring outside the lines”, when my bra-straps cut painfully into my shoulders and my usually quirky style of dress consists of whatever fits. In a strange contradiction, when my body takes up less space, I feel like I have more of a right to my place in the world.

And yet… as an activist, I sit myself down and lecture myself about the fact that we are not our bodies. I want to bookmark all the body-positive blogs and frequent the fat-girl-yoga IG feeds. I’m trying to be kinder to myself – as kind as I am to other buxom, big-boned beauties, or to the skinny waifs who will always look prepubescent, but are no less woman. The irony is, I can see other women’s inner and outer beauty so clearly, but I’m myopic when it comes to seeing mine. Maybe my chosen career creates this kind of body dysmorphia, but I’m going to keep insisting that a woman’s worth does not lie in the numbers on a scale, or the size on a clothes-tag. It lies in how we love, our empathy, compassion, strength, resilience, our creativity, in how many times we get up when life knocks us down, in the grace, or galumphiness, with which we navigate our daily challenges. That, to me, seems closer to the truth and I’m going to keep repeating it to myself till I finally, whole-heartedly, believe it.

I’m going to keep pounding into my brain the fact that even when I think my body, reflected in the mirror, is too much, I, am more than enough.

Sandi Schultz is a South African actress best known for her role as Dr Jennifer Adams in the Afrikaans language soapie Binnelanders.

You can find her on

Instagram

Twitter 

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories.

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

I am free!

When I was asked to write a piece for woman’s day, I found the thought quite intimidating.  What would I write about?  What could I possibly offer that would be worth reading about?  Obviously because it was my #bestie, Wenchy that asked – I couldn’t say no.  So here I sit pondering on my life gone by, trying to decipher the best advice or even the best recollection that I may pass on to other women.

Gail and Wenchy
#Besties Gail and Wenchy

I think that the hardest part about being a woman in today’s life, is to actually be a woman.  Most of us grew up in a time where it was prime choice to have a boy.  Unfortunately for me (and my two sisters), we were born female.  This turned out to be our greatest crime in the eyes of our father.  No matter how hard we tried to get out of that stereotype, it stuck.  Granted we learnt to do a lot of things that other women generally cannot do – like service a car, change a tap washer, tile a bathroom, paint a house etc.  While this took up our weekends, our mother fervently tried to embrace the feminine side of us – teaching us to cook, bake, and sew and other such suitable activities.

So many of my parents’ quirks have moulded me into the woman that I am today.  That combined with a 20+ year marriage.  As a young child and growing up into adulthood, we were melded into the role of prisoner / house help / gardener / and anything else that might have been needed.  The absolute terror of my father coming home, lest anything be out of place or our school results not good enough.  We were brought up in a house where children were not seen and most definitely not heard. We were not allowed to have friends over and it was very rarely that we were allowed to go to a friend’s house. It was a different upbringing, one that required survival skills sometimes tantamount to Special Forces. The three of us learnt the art of karate – after all we needed some sort of defence mechanism against the father; the drunk, abusive father.

In my matric year, I met my soon to be husband.  Also a difficult man, but certainly better than the other option of staying at home.  The day I got my matric results, I was told to leave.  This after many bitter arguments on the subject of tertiary education.  So at the tender age of 17, with only my clothes, I stepped into the wide world of adulthood and moved in with my husband.  I am sure that I might have loved him, but I loved the idea of “freedom” more.  How wrong I was!  As the years passed, we had three daughters.  I had started studying in a highly specialised career and he plodded along to his own routine.  This routine unfortunately did include much work, and the burden lay at my feet to ensure that the children had a place to stay, had food to eat and all their other needs were seen to.

As the years passed by, he became more withdrawn and more difficult – becoming more and more like my father.  I was torn between wanting to leave and having a stable, two parent home for the girls.  I was caught in the cycle of keeping my mouth shut and doing what was necessary for everything to run smoothly.  Irrespective of the snide and biting comments, or the lack of income from his side, I did what was necessary to keep it all going.

I am freeI can’t exactly say what snapped in me, but something did.  On a balmy night in November I had enough of his threats and accusations.  I marched over to him and told him in no uncertain terms, that I was done with this relationship.  I just couldn’t carry on the way things had been going for so long.  (Things had become worse after his nervous breakdown and suicide attempt.)  I can’t say for certain what actually triggered this event.  After all, things had been like this for so long already.  Once again, I was at the point of not going out anywhere, not having friends and living a totally secluded life.  I was even being checked up on at work (just to ensure that I was actually at work and not some other devious place.)

After the brave act of telling him that I was done, things became unbearable.  Between the threats and accusations, we literally fled with our clothes and our beds.  It has been just over a year now and slowly but surely I have been working through issues that imprisoned me all these years.  I still have a long way to go, but each day I am learning to be free – to be me.  Actually, I am learning to be me and learning who me is.  I have had such a different life up to now, that the most normal of behaviours in others absolutely floor me.  The differences have culminated in some really interesting OCD traits and a lot of naivety.  The best thing that I have done for myself – is to escape the male dominance and to live for me, to the betterment of me.

Every woman deserves this freedom.  The freedom to be completely herself, unashamedly.  So for now, I have this constant reminder to never get into that position again.

You can contact me on Twitter.

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

Who is Gaynor Paynter?

Gaynor Paynter is a wife, a mother, a pet-owner, a business owner, a blogger, a 41-year-old woman. But it doesn’t really answer the question, does it?

Sometimes it’s confusing to think about which role to fill, which person to be, and whether deep inside there’s still something left of the original person.

gaynor 2A conclusion which presented itself recently was the following: Deep inside I’m still the 13-year-old girl who came about in 1988. My theory is that the burgeoning teenager is our true self.

We love things because we do. Not because we’re conditioned by the world or the people around us. You hear something or see something, you love it and that’s that. That’s why people from the 50s still love Elvis. People from the early 80s swear by movies and TV from that time. Because it’s your true self reacting, your true love without bull shit. And if you’re lucky, you’re worry free, so you can give your whole self to it. Pop music, fun, celebrities, animals, writing. At 13, I knew who I wanted to be as an adult. The saviour of the world. Someone who mattered and who made a difference.

I wonder if this is not something that a lot of women deal with. Somewhere between being 13 and being 35, that original person gets lost under other things. Responsibilities  comes along and kills just about every other thing. Family, love, just ….. growing up.gaynor

For me personally, the loss of the original person was a contributor to depression and anxiety. You turn from being a person into being an automaton. Not LIVING, not really – just being.

Providing. Caring. Paying. Raising two sons with unique and special needs BY OURSELVES. All necessary, but not exactly FUN. I don’t know if it’s got something to do with turning 40, but when that number approached, the realisation dawned: the world was not saved. The fun had pretty much …. stopped. No difference was being made. I had let that 13-year-old girl down. Do all women go through this?

Depression and anxiety are no joke. And in most cases (as in mine) there are many contributors. But there are things that can be done. FIND the time for fun and for self. A happier you is a happier family. I did a lot of damage to my family by being emotionally absent while I was trying to keep all the other balls in the air, and we are still recovering from the consequences of that. Go back to all the things you enjoyed.

It’s easier now with the internet. Through iTunes and YouTube the beloved music was easy to find and now my kids know all the cheesy 80’s music that I love. The internet makes amazing things possible – like this blog post. Thank you so much Wenchy for asking me to be a part of this. I’m honoured to be featured on your site!

Instead of having to write fan mail to pop stars, we can email them or contact them on Facebook, and promote them on the internet. Old passions that you’ve lost touch with are doable again. This may sound self-indulgent and maybe a little self-absorbed. But take it from me – your family needs you to be happy. A happy family needs a happy mom.

This is Women’s month. Which is a bit of a joke to me until people like the head honcho Jacob Zuma take it seriously. But we can make it worthwhile for ourselves without help by getting back to who we are and honouring the young teenager inside.

Owner: Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC
Website: http://typewritetranscription.co.za/
Contact: gaynor@typewritetranscription.co.za
Twitter: @TypewriteSA  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TypewriteTranscription/
Buy my ebook: http://typewritetranscription.co.za/index.php/e-book/

Entertainment / Pop culture blogger: Pop Speaking
Website: www.popspeaking.com
Contact: gaynor@typewritetranscription.co.za
Twitter: @Popspeaking

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

​The Waiting Room

If walls could talk I am certain that the walls of this small enclosed space would have many a tale to tell; what once was a fresh, clean coat of enamel now appeared to be the suffocated silent scream of pain and agony, the white no longer exuded its originality but through no choice of its own portrayed the aura of a brownish-beige tinged with red.

“Red, the colour of blood- blood being an essential element in life,” I silently murmur to myself. The blood flowing through my veins though oxygenated runs cold within my body, I breathe, I feel, I am alive but have ceased to live.

Overcrowded as this room is, I am alone, alone with my foreboding thoughts, alone with my emotion, alone… All alone in this cold dark bleak world.

Scanning the room the trepidation on each individual’s face is unmistakeable. The ginger-haired girl is ruffled up, the smell emanating from her hints that her body has not had the pleasure of water running across it, let alone any soap being lathered into its pores. 

She has scars of old and scars of new, her eyes are hollow and she sits motionless yet without a doubt she sits emotionally exhausted.

Chocolate; dark chocolate has always being a favourite of mine though these last twelve weeks had me put off the delicacy. Twelve weeks previously life as I knew it changed…

The door creaks as it is opened and the pale skinned girl that exits walks hastily across the green carpeted area, eyes downcast ensuring that she does not make eye-contact with any of the occupants of the room, she makes her way into the sun-lit area just beyond the double doors separating life from the lifeless.

“Number 15” a well built lady behind the counter called and as she did so the slender meek looking girl rose and slowly entered the room. It was not long before she emerged, her face tear-stained clutching her belly before falling to the ground, her sobs growing louder with all eyes fixated on her. The lady standing at the door slowly shook her head and then yelled next.

Slowly the room began emptying out, with each lady taking an approximate of thirty minutes each behind the shut wooden doors. I being the last in would also be the last out.

The ticking of the clock grew louder with each passing hour, the minute hand seemed to move slower and the room, though emptier felt as though the walls were closing in on me. 

Two more girls; a short rather plumpier  than average girl that looked no older than sixteen and the subdued lady in pink were still ahead of me.

The large double doors swung open and in its entrance stood a petite brown girl, her hair long and luscious fell to her hips in a neat black braid. 

She looked confused and immediately got the attention of the lady behind the counter whose voice was only heard when calling the number of the next in line.

“You’re in the wrong place my dear,” she said courteously.
“My name is Taladia and I… I…” the brown girl trailed off.

“Number 19” the lady screeched from behind her table and with that both Taladia and number 18 disappeared behind shut doors. 19 entered the next room thus leaving ’20’ and myself ’21’ in the eerily silent room.

Now that it was just me and the young girl she looked with pleading eyes. I shifted over next to her and without pause, without hesitation she began her story:

He said that he loved me every morning when he dropped me off at school and more on days when I did not enter the school gates at all. He gave me money for food and bought me gifts. He said that he loved me!

Many a day I’d wait with him in his taxi for all the learners to leave in search of an education and then together he and I spent the day.

We kissed, oh how we kissed… I knew that he loved me from the way he kissed me, it tickled me all over and the hair upon my neck stood with excitement. He said that he loved me!

Eventually the kissing wasn’t enough and as he kissed me his hands moved across my body. He cupped my breast in his hand and whispered into my ears that I was the most beautiful woman in his world. Boys my age tease me, they call me fat and ugly. They say that I am one of them and that they’d never date me. He made me feel special…

We sat in his taxi, mum worked hard to make enough money for our survival, she paid him his taxi fare to take me school but that day I did not go to school. 

We drove around and then parked off somewhere quiet. I don’t know where it was because as we drove I was picturing that I was sitting next to my husband. I was happy, he was my future…

He switched off the taxi and turned to me, he kissed me softly, slowly and in the most gentle way that he could. 

He said that he loved me and took my hand and placed it between his legs, he told me to feel his love for me, to feel just how happy I made him.

In place of a flaccid penis there stood an erect one, I was scared but he kissed me more fiercely now. He whispered words of affection as his hand scanned my body and slowly he undid the zip of my grey pants. 

I pulled away and he called me a tease so I kissed him and allowed him to have his way with me. It was painful, it was sore but the smile emanating from him told me that he enjoyed it. 

The next time was less painful and before I went home that day I too was enjoying the pulsating movements of him within me. I asked him to use a condom but he responded saying that real men don’t use condoms in the same way that kids don’t eat a sweet with a wrapper on. 

I wanted to prove my love for him more often now, and understood his want for sex with me as his love for me. 

On days that he didn’t want me he barely spoke to me. I loved him and he said that he loved me too.

Two weeks ago I told him that I was pregnant and that sent him into a fit of rage, he called me a bitch, told me that it was not his and then he stopped speaking to me.

Today I am here to terminate this pregnancy alone though it was not I alone that made this baby…

Her story ended as number 19 left the room and her number was called.

Alone in the room now I looked at the lady behind the counter and wondered how many stories like this had she heard, how many young girls have a similar story to tell…

I guess she felt my gaze on her and looked up, found my eyes and stared into them. The story her eyes told was unnerving. 

There she sat in all her sophisticated glory with a superior air to herself and condescending glares, her spectacles propped on her nose and a neat bun at the nape of her neck, Yes, here I am sitting in the waiting room of a legal abortion clinic with her knowing my name and number but not my story yet being judged for all my worth.

I think to myself about ‘Taladia’ that had for a fleeting moment considered a legal termination but more than likely had chosen a backstreet abortion safe from the judgement of this big burly bureaucrat…

It was my turn and cautiously I entered the room, it was cold and the smell of death was present. The butch doctor in her white lab coat plastered a smile upon her face, immune to the raging emotions that were contained in this very room.

Blue surgical gloves clothed her hands, her voice timid in comparison to her muscular appearance requested that I put on the gown available, freeing my body for a quick examination.

The bed, dressed in green disposable linen was propped up at an angle, ahead of me the wall was covered in charts displaying various images of the foetus at different gestational periods and my breathing intensified as the image of what was happening inside my body became a reality in my mind.

I had spent the greater part of the last few weeks in denial, denying the reality of my pregnancy but could deny it no longer.

“You’re precisely 10 weeks pregnant,” said the doctor interrupting my thoughts as she concluded her examination.

“What are my options of termination?” I asked, knowing full well that that was my only option.

She responded by telling me that I could have a ‘medical procedure’ done on an available date during which they would ‘suction’ the foetus out or that I could be given the ‘abortion’ pill immediately but if I waited beyond twelve weeks I’d have to undergo a non-invasive surgical procedure having to spend a night in the local hospital. 

She reiterated that abortion was legal up to the twentieth week and that I had time to think about it and make a rational decision.

I opted for the pill and within minutes the hexagonal pill was placed under my tongue.

“In Twenty four hours take the second pill, it will clean out whatever is left behind,” she said before I dressed and left the room.

I did not know how this pill was to work and I was too terrified to ask any questions but I knew that within twenty four hours I would no longer be pregnant.

The taxi drive home was silent beyond that of the thundering noise of the vehicle that was clearly not road-worthy. 

I could hear my heart beating and sat in pensive silence all the way home. I had decided to visit a clinic far from home in case someone who knew me or my family saw me entering the clinic.

Nobody could know about the events that took place on the brink of Spring.

It took roughly three hours before I started experiencing pain and by the fifth I was in excruciating pain. 

My thoughts went to the young girl and wondered whether she would be able to handle the intensity of the pain felt and then unwittingly my thoughts went to ‘Taladia’, hoping fervently that she did not opt for some side-street abortion.

Hour after hour the pain first intensified and then began subsiding whilst fragments of the foetus was discharged. 

The blood flow was heavy, the smell nauseating and the stark reality of the absent ‘father’ painful.

My family, oblivious to what was going on could be heard jovially entertained by the television whilst I lay in an agonising foetal position wishing death would have me.

The days that passed did little to improve the mood of my depressed spirit and it was only with a little guidance and encouragement to seek counselling did I finally make peace with my life’s choices.

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,
Wenchy