August 2019 : Woman’s Month Guest Posts Submissions

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

Every August I invite individuals identifying as female, to share my digital space. If you would like to write a piece in the form of a blog or have me interview you via email (or in-person 😉) – all in celebrating the essence of being a woman – please join in. On condition that your contribution is authentic, 🌿any and all subjects🌿 are welcome. Besides giraffes, I’m rather fond of men, so no generalised male-bashing, please.

Careers, parenting, sexuality, gender, health, relationships, LGBTQ+, mental health, equality, beauty, food, hospitality, books, theatre, sex, religion, fashion, events, restaurants, grief, love, lust, favourite condiment in your kitchen, weddings, jewellery, animals, business, comedy, blogging, your neighbours, tourism …

Shameless self-promotion so, I will be linking your post on my site, back to your blog, and/or any other social media platforms you provide. Around 350 words and a picture relating to your piece, or a snappy of the Author. Anonymous posts will be considered.

If this appeals to you, please mail your contributions to wenchy@mweb.co.za 🌱 I love doing this annually and look forward to hearing from you.

#mytribe

I wish you enough

Wenchy

#wenchytude
#AfricanHipsDontLie
🌿 🥂

Guest Post: A part-time transgender woman.

Male Privilege: Yes, It Is Real

HPIM0011 (2) (002)When typing the heading to this piece I felt myself fighting back the words ‘no shit Sherlock’ and then wondered, ‘should I carry on writing this?’ Then I remembered why I wanted to write this and resolved to carry on bashing the keyboard relentlessly. You see, I have been told, sometimes by women close to me and very definitely by many men of varying degrees of closeness, that male privilege does not in fact exist. But, I know that it does. I experience it daily both as the beneficiary and the ‘victim’ of it.

As a part-time transgender woman, I make my way through the world, sometimes in the guise of a man and sometimes as the woman, I know myself to be. I am not ‘out’ at work and very few people I know socially know both iterations of me. I am therefore privy to much of the unedited, ‘normal’ male decision making, thought processes and behaviours that underpin society. I also enjoy some ‘passing privilege’ and am assumed to be a woman rather than the dreaded ‘man in a dress’ by many I meet socially. This changes at some point after meeting, but even after I have been discovered, being feminine means I am treated fundamentally differently to the way I am treated when presenting as a male. I know this because I experience it.

So let’s get this out the way … I’m a cross dresser

As a man, I can walk freely down the street, without fear.
As a woman I feel afraid to walk down the street, wondering whether I will be sexually harassed or worse, be the victim of a gender-based assault.
As a man, I can visit pubs and nightclubs (should I want to) at will.
As a woman, I am afraid to go to the mall at night, let alone a nightclub or bar alone.
As a man, I have little fear of my drink being spiked.
As a woman, I have to think about what I order, how it is delivered, who has opened it and where it is at any given time.
As a man, I can engage in debate and argument (both online and in person) and have my ideas respected (even when I am not agreed with).
As a woman I have my own arguments repeated back to me and I am regularly mansplained to.

HPIM0003 (2) (002).jpgThe sad truth is that men think less of women and men dominate work and social spaces. Their ideas carry more weight, their voices speak louder and with more authority and they move through the world with little (if any) fear. Some women accentuate this. They listen more attentively to men, they reinforce the male ego and they often do not support other women in business. Some women even think those who experience gender-based violence were ‘asking for it’. I have experienced unwelcome sexual attention. It has happened to me in mid-winter wearing jeans and jackets, it has happened to me in summer wearing a skirt. I have never welcomed it. This proves that this is a fallacy. I am fortunate in that I have never had anything escalate to physical assault, but men feel empowered to act like this. This is not normal it is not acceptable.

We need to change the way we think. We need to change what we think. We need to assert our power in the face of this male privilege. Men get away with thinking it does not exist because that is the nature of privilege, it is so entrenched it seems normal. We, women, have no such excuse. We are in this together. We should stand together.


You can reach Daniella on her Blog , and on Twitter as well as in a business capacity, Priscillas Services – Assisting the Gauteng LGBT (especially transgender and cross-dressing) community, with make-up, accommodation, storage, fashion (personal shopping) and transformation services. Safety and discretion guaranteed. Fun and happiness assured. Johannesburg, South Africa.

Guest Post: It’s all about the boobs!

1 October 2008

It was a normal Wednesday… Work, clients, paperwork, homework with the kids, dinner…. A lovely day actually… That evening, after bath, I was applying body lotion, and when putting it on my breasts, I felt something strange…. A bump/lump…. WTH??? I checked, checked again, lay down on the bed, felt this way felt that way, went to the mirror, turned sideways, checked again… and yep, there it was…. a fricken bump, about the size of a large marble (a goon as we called it as kids)!!!!! I called Jacques, more like a little scream actually, “come here quickly!!!”… He hurried into the bedroom and asked what’s wrong… a spider? what???

.I looked at him, big eyes, and I think I resembled a fish… I wanted to tell him what I’d found, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth…. I put my hand up, “wait”, I took a breath, gulped… And told him I felt something funny… Funny haha or funny strange he asked… Funny strange I replied…. I told him, “a bump” pointing at my upper right breast, I showed him the exact spot, put his fingers over it and moved them in circles, his eyes opened wide, he felt, felt again… stepped back… He looked worried…. and that’s when I burst into tears.

marietjie

How did this happen? I often checked my breasts, as per doctor’s instruction and various magazine articles… One week after my period, every month… Wait, had I checked the previous month? And the month before that?…. I tried to recall when last I’d done the self-exam. Jeez, almost 7 months had passed since I’d checked them the last time!!! How could I have forgotten? I’m usually very good at the “look after myself, thereby look after my family” thing.

I didn’t know what to do, the only thing on my mind was CANCER. Shit! What the hell do I do if I have Cancer? I’m the breadwinner, I have responsibilities, my kids are still small, I’m the MOM for goodness sake!!! I immediately called my mom, and asked her if we have a history of Breast Cancer in the family, nope, never had anyone with those issues, on either my mom or dad’s sides. Thank goodness, a small comfort at least…. I explained what I’d found and she said to call my GP first thing in the morning and make an appointment. She tried to comfort me, telling me not to worry, wait until I’d seen the doctor, and then, once I knew the facts, take whatever steps are required to “handle” the situation. Truthfully, I’d always been very good at “handling” situations. I’m a tough cookie. Stress, issues, worries, problems… Yep, I can handle anything…. Anything but the thought of losing my breast?????

I went onto the internet, BIG MISTAKE! Any idea how many articles on lumps, breast cancer, breast abnormalities etc. there are on the web??? THOUSANDS!!! After the 5th or 6th page, I freaked and turned off the computer. I felt sick to my stomach, and suddenly very tired…. I tried to watch tv, couldn’t concentrate, and around 10pm, went to bed… No sleep, nil, nothing, nada…. I kept feeling the bump, hoping it’d go away, or just feeling the texture… It wasn’t painful, but hells bells… it was THERE… It felt bigger every time I touched it! The scenarios going through my mind were not pretty, I’d seen pictures of mastectomy op’s before, and of course, my little internet visit hadn’t helped at all…. I kept thinking about what would happen to my family if I died? Shit sakes!!! I’m 37 years old, and thinking about death???? No way Jose!!! I just simply would NOT die! Well, that’s what I thought, and I prayed…. Wow did I pray… Hadn’t prayed so hard since the day my dad was killed in a car accident, and I prayed that my mom would survive…. I’d been 8 months pregnant with Danielle at the time… Yep, it took 17 years for me to talk to God with such desperation and begging, I’m sure the poor Man didn’t know how to handle a sobbing, begging, praying, sniffling ME! I just remember saying please don’t let me die, please let me raise my kids… please, please, please.

I was up, dressed and ready for the day at 6am. I waited until 8 and called my GP, explained to the receptionist what I’d found, and begged her for the earliest appointment. I think the poor woman must have heard the fear in my voice… She told me to come in immediately, and that the doctor would see me as soon as I arrived…. I drove to the doctor’s office, walked in, and was told Dr C’s waiting for me… Dr C has been our family doctor for 17 years, direct, honest, and nice! I walked into her consulting room, and the tears literally flowed… She sat me down, and we talked…. I explained what I’d found, she told me to lie on the bed, examined me, and actually took the time to check the left breast as well…. Yep, as I thought (and of course felt), there was quite a large lump in my right breast…. She told me I’d need to have a sonogram so that we can see what we’re dealing with.

Well, off to the Clinton Clinic for me. Arrived, went through, and waited, then into the little room for the sonogram… The poor radiographer could see that I was very nervous.  She completed the sonogram, both on the right breast and the left, then advised that the Doctor would be in to check, and explain the findings… The doctor arrived, had a look, and explained…. Yes, there is a rather large cyst in my right breast… along with several smaller ones… WTF? SEVERAL SMALLER ONES? And then he checked the left breast, and yep, you guessed it…. MORE!!! SHIT!!!! My mind was reeling, cysts? In BOTH breasts? How? Why? How? I had to ask the doctor to stop talking, and backtrack; I’d missed some of what he was explaining to me…. It looks like Fibrocystic Breast Disease…. OMG… DISEASE????? He told me it’s fairly common, but that the large cyst in my right breast was indeed a concern, and also two in the left breast…. He also advised that I’d need to go for a Mammogram… But But But…. I tried to argue… Mammogram to me equals Breast Cancer… He’d just called it something else??? He explained that due to the size of the large cyst, and the number of smaller ones visible, that a Mammogram was also required… He typed up his report and off I went to the Union… Filled in forms, had to wait for the Medical Aid to authorise the Mammogram… Went into the little room… and there it was… the torture device…. Yep, the vice grip of all vice grips…. The radiographer was very professional, explaining how it all works, that it “might hurt a little” etc…. Then it began… Well, “might hurt a little” was the understatement of the fricken CENTURY!!!! FRICKEN HELL!!! It felt as if my breast was being squeezed enough to pop…. A very very unpleasant experience!!! First the right, top to bottom, then side view… then the left…. I stood there, crying, not quite knowing if it was the pain of the Mammogram or the fear of the results…. Done, and report in hand, I was on my way back to Dr C….

Again, walked right in, she was waiting for me, she took the two envelopes, opened them up, started reading, and said, MMMMMM. I never thought I’d ever say this to a doctor, but I just blurted out… “what the F&ck does MMMMM mean?”…. She looked at me, and explained, all over again, about the Fibrocystic Breast Disease, the number of cysts found in both breasts, how it works… (little bubbles that fill with fluid during your period, then go away)…. Surprise surprise…. Mine did NOT go away!!! They’d taken up residence in my breasts, and seemed quite happy to stay and thrive!!! She informed that the large cyst in the right breast would need specialist attention, so I was referred to a Specialist Physician…. I was lucky enough to get an appointment for the Friday…. Oh groovy, just another sleepless night or two… Not like I wasn’t tired or anything….??? I left her rooms, feeling numb, and not quite focused…. I didn’t even bother going to work, no way could I do anything constructive with the stuff on my mind… I called Jacques and explained in a very clinical manner about the sonar, mammogram, results, referral etc… Yep, when I panic and stress about something, I treat it as if it’s happening to someone else, and does not bother me in the least…. Yeah right…. I was actually quivering inside…. Shit, I was so scared!!!

Friday morning, off to the Park Lane Clinic… One Specialist Physician appointment to nail…. A page and a half of questions (yep, I do that… write down every single thing that I think I might need to ask, and make a list, so that I can quiz the doctor, all the while, shaking like a leaf, and wishing I was one of those people who kept Prozac in the bathroom cabinet…. DAMN, felt as if I’d pop one or two very easily)… I was scared.

It was a female doctor, a Professor…. Lovely lady… She was sweet, and when she’d read the reports, told me to go into the exam room, she’d come and have a look…. She prodded, she poked, the checked, she looked… And yes, there was indeed a fairly large lump in the upper right breast (oh wow, this was NOT news to me!!!), and it would need to be removed surgically… The cysts in the left breast did not require surgery, as they were small, and their “walls” were smooth and according to the sonar and mammogram, nothing to be concerned about. She said she could operate the following day… She explained the procedure; she’d make an incision around the areola, remove the cyst, and stitch it back up…. The growth… (ugly word… cyst sounded better, cyst sounded not dangerous… like a blister… growth sounded like a foreign thing… an unwanted foreign growth in my breast… YUCK)…. I asked if it was Cancer? She said it was impossible to tell, she’d remove it and send it away for analysis…. It takes about a week for the results she said…. SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!! A week??? How the hell was I going to make it through a week….?

My head was reeling, it was so much more real to me now, knowing I’d have to go into surgery, they were going to cut my nipple off, and remove the “uninvited guest”…. I asked her about scarring, she said it would be minimal, as she’d make the incision around the areola, and would do a fine stitch to put it back together.

Surgery is nothing new to me… I’ve had three kids, two by C-Section, and I’ve had over 20 surgeries to have ovarian cysts removed… But these surgeries were on my stomach… the scars not really noticeable with all the stretch marks and c-section scars… They didn’t bother me… But DAMN….. My BREAST?????

I left her consulting rooms, went downstairs to the hospital reception, filled in forms for the procedure, got authorisation from the Medical Aid, all on Auto Pilot…. I felt numb… I think I was hoping that once I saw her, she’d tell me to take a course of antibiotics, and I’d be fine…. Now I was not so sure… I left, and called Jacques once I got in the car… The poor man was worried, I could tell, but he just said, it’d be a breeze, that I’m tough, and that we’d deal with the test results when we received them….

Next morning, arrived at the hospital at 6am, booked in, and assigned to a ward… Visited by the doctor and anaesthetist, drip inserted, and the procedure explained again, in detail…. The surgery would take no more than 45 minutes, and I could go home after 3pm…. I told Jacques he could leave, and go to work, but he’d brought the latest Clive Cussler, and waited. I went into surgery around 9am…. LOVE those little pre-med tablets they give you… WOOHOO…. Drowsy and happy was ME!…. I woke up around 11am, and expected to feel pain… I felt nothing… I immediately checked to see that I still had a breast…. Yep, it was there, bandaged, but there…. I smiled at Jacques, said something stupid like I love my boobies, and went back to sleep…. The doctor came to see me about an hour later, explained that the procedure had gone well and that the cyst (5cm round), along with some surrounding tissue, had been removed. About the size of a golf ball….. This would be sent to the lab for analysis, and she would contact me as soon as the results were back… I asked her why I felt no pain, she explained that she’d injected me with some aesthetic into the breast, which would keep me pain-free for 72 hours…. YUMMMM…. I don’t like pain, so this was good…. She talked to me about wound care etc, and that the stitches would dissolve. I had to see her on Tuesday, to remove the bandage and for her to see if all is ok.

We left just after 3…. A week, I had to wait a week? DAMN!!! Jacques tried to tell me it would be ok, but I didn’t even take it in…. I was worried… It’s a woman thing, I don’t think men understand about us and our breasts…. They’re what makes us female…. and mine was not exactly fantastic, but they weren’t awful either… I liked them, they were mine, I’d had them since I was 14, kinda became attached to them, and would very much prefer to keep them… !!!

The weekend was a quiet one…. I tried not to think about anything…. Monday came, had the checkup, she removed the bandage, and there was just a little white sticky tape on the breast, basically halfway around the areola…. Very little swelling… and she was pleased that there was no sign of infection…. I asked her whether she’d heard anything about the tests??? No, nothing yet, she would call me… she promised…. F&ck!!! Call me??? I can’t wait another four days…. I left her rooms and went back to work…. I have no idea how I functioned during the next few days…. Auto Pilot… I love Auto Pilot….

Thursday morning, 8h15am…. Phone… Dr…. NO CANCER NO CANCER NO CANCER!!!!! Oh my word, those were the best words anyone had ever said to me in my entire life!!!!!!! She explained that all was well, no problem, NO CANCER!!!…. She explained that I’d need to keep a close eye on my breasts, must do self-exams EVERY month, and have both a sonogram and mammogram every 6 months….

If I’d found the lump/cyst, when it was smaller, I could have had it drained via the needle aspiration process…. Surgery could have been avoided, and also the stress, and pain, and fear of those AWFUL 8 days….

I check my breasts EVERY month, I don’t miss a single time… NEVER…. I go for the sonar & mammogram every six months… Yes, I have Fibrocystic Breast Disease… Almost 60% of both breasts consist of little cysts… Smaller than Jelly Tots… But they’re there… and I know the feel of EVERY SINGLE ONE of them…. If they DARE grow a little bigger from one month to the next, I realise it immediately and can take the necessary steps to have them checked, and aspirated if needs be.

The scar healed nicely… well not nice, but it’s ok…. I hate it, Jacques says he doesn’t see it (sweet sweet man)…. Due to the size of the lump/cyst removed, there was quite a bit of tissue loss, and yes, it was very noticeable… About a month after the surgery, I started inserting a little silicone bubble into my bra, to ensure that the right breast looked like the left…. Evened me out a little…. Nobody ever knew… Until now… Shit, won’t be able to face half my friends after this….

marietjie 2The main reason for this note… (ok novel)…. is to stress the importance of monthly Breast Exams…. Ladies, please, check your boobies…. Gents, remind your ladies…. the 8 days of hell live in my head as if it happened yesterday…. And to think, if I’d done the exams, as I should have done, I could have avoided almost all of it….

I’m glad I went through this, in a way…. It’s made me stronger, and it’s also made me realise the importance of looking after myself…. Life sucks sometimes, but hey, mostly life’s pretty damn wonderful…. 🙂

M

I thank God every day, that it turned out to be something small and I pray, every day, that it never becomes something big…. Every day… x

You can contact Marietjie Albasini on :

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Guest Post: Rephethile Kgwale

My name is Rephethile Kgwale and I’m the founder of a campaign called Matters of the brain, I’ve been living with Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety disorder and Dysthemia for eight years.

After being diagnosed I experienced judgement from society due to the expectations they had of me. I realize how stigmatized mental health is especially around the black community. I realized the gap and need to start this campaign to find ways to eliminate and educate people more about mental health in a safe space.

Rephethile Kgwale
Rephethile Kgwale

Matters of the brain is a non-judgmental platform implemented for those suffering from various mental health issues, those whose loved ones are dealing and not dealing with their diagnosis.  This campaign aims to target mainly the black community within South Africa.

It mainly focuses on these parameters because black people are not well educated to deal with and accept mental health challenges. Many black people are not comfortable to engage in conversations about mental illnesses. Black people can’t differentiate the different disorders, therefore our aim is to open the channels and create a safe educative platform. A platform that will clear the confusion and create a detailed supportive forum.

The minute you start talking about your mind, people get very anxious, because we associate that with being who we are, fundamentally with “us” — us as a person, us as an individual, our thoughts, our fears, our hopes, our aspirations, our everything.

38017320_2302249976458945_2062864691960479744_nFeeling miserable could, in fact, be seen as part of you or an extension of your social world. Applying a medical label to your emotions is not always something that everyone with depression, for example, is comfortable with.

Banishing the stigma attached to mental health issues can go a long way toward facilitating genuinely useful conversations.

 

Hook up with Rephethile on social media:

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Guest Post : Behind the door

I have always been fascinated with doors. I find myself photographing various shapes and types of doors wherever I travel throughout South Africa. My Pinterest account has a board aptly named ‘Doors’ and on my ‘France’ and ‘Architecture’ boards, you’ll find numerous beautiful photographs from around the world featuring… you guessed it… all kinds of doors.

Some beautifully carved front doors are comfortably nestled in a blanket of soft green ivy creepers. Brightly coloured rows of striped beach houses sport crisp white doors, where shafts of late afternoon sunlight play a game of hide and seek. Stately homes parade ornate doorknockers, some inviting and others to scare away evil spirits. Doors in far-flung destinations fit neatly into architectural masterpieces where arches stretch to the stars. Other buildings have fabric doors that flap in the dusty winds.

Elizabeth Arden, founder of the well-known cosmetic house chose a red door to capture people’s attention when she opened her famous Red Door Spa on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1910. This famous red door still stands today and became the symbol of female independence around the early 1900’s. Behind this red door, women who joined the Second World War were given lipsticks in varying shades of red to match their uniforms, to show support to their war efforts. The iconic name of Elizabeth Arden still provides confidence to women all over the world 108 years later. It all started with a single red door.

My favourite doors are the well-worn ones, held together with rusted hinges and heavy metal locks. This makes me wonder. Do these doors protect family secrets inside or keep strangers out? Or perhaps both…? If these doors could talk, what stories would they tell?

My fascination with doors, has made me think… what do these doors represent to us? Doors are part of our everyday lives. Church doors may bring consolation or conviction. Hospital doors can cause anxiety or bring relief. Doors allow us to enter and leave. The doors where we live protect us and let the sunshine in. Doors give us choices…

If I had to create my perfect door, it would be a huge wooden door, painted red and adorned with solid brass hinges and an impressive round doorknob. I would see my reflection in the brass fittings and know that no matter what the world thinks of me, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (I might have to remind myself of this every now and again though.) I believe that I would not be afraid to confidently take hold of that beautiful round doorknob and push open my bright red door.

I wonder… what would I hope to find behind my red door? Hopefully I will find a fresh desire to live my life with newfound passion. I want to see new words tumble down from heaven in a myriad of colours, penetrating my heart and mind. Words that will set my pages alight and inspire my readers. There must be words of excellence that inspire others and make them think. And bucket loads of kindness and compassion to heal the hurts that cross my path.

What does your favourite door represent to you? What does your door look like? What is hidden behind your door? Are you hesitant to open it because you are afraid of the unknown?

I dare you to take hold of that handle that has been beckoning you for days or even years and let a new world into your life.

All right here goes… my hand is on the cool brass. My palm is sweaty. Let us see what life holds for me behind my door.

You can contact Laura at:

Blog

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*Photo – http://inspirage.info/cool-the-door-photos/
** All other photos courtesy of Google images

Guest Post: Being a woman

My name is Melanie but often I can’t pronounce it so let’s stick to Miss Pretorius or Lu.

It’s no state secret that I stutter and that it gets worse when I’m nervous…and I’m nervous a lot. It’s funny that I would choose a career in the media that involves interacting with strangers and often requires interviews, the things that triggers my nervousness and therefore intensifies my stuttering. I didn’t choose it, it chose me and I’m happy. It taught me to get out of my shell, overcome my social anxieties and live my best life, be the best me I can possible be.

I’m often told I’m weird and I don’t get offended by that statement. If being my authentic self constitutes to weird, well then I’m the weirdest person around. I’m awkward, socially and otherwise and relate to animals better than to humans. I take eons to open up but when I do it’s because I trust, irrevocably. I love the colour black and feel it has a lot to do with the Greek meaning of my name, which is literally “darkness”. I’m drawn to it, like a moth to a flame; it’s my security blanket, my safe haven.

I’m often in battle with myself over insecurity issues that stems from my youth. You’d think by now I’d have a fail-safe way to overcome it but alas some of it still haunts me. I’ve been teased endlessly about my tiny frame and I’ve come to accept it with time but on some days, when you already feel low and a random stranger makes a remark, you’re sucked into that cycle of self-doubt again. I’ve learned that my strength comes from accepting my weakness and apparently caring about others’ opinions about me is one of them. I don’t lash back, oh no, I won’t stoop to their level and the art of meditation has helped me through many such battles.

Being a woman means being strong. Dealing with constant scrutiny, stereotypes and being judged by different standards than men, well it requires a lot of strength. I’ve written several posts about sexual harassment, slut shaming and now pink tax that we as women constantly have to deal with, often on a daily basis. Frankly, I don’t feel that it will ever stop so we need to arm ourselves with the necessary tools to withstand the temptation to get embroiled in fights by our male counterparts. How do we do that?

Ignore them; nothing makes people angrier than you not acknowledging their existence. Show them that you’re a better human being than they could wish to be. We have one thing that they’ll never possess, that try as they may they can’t take it away; we give life! We are your first love as we are your mother, sister, aunt and grandmother.

The strength that comes from being a woman is unlike anything you’d ever be able to acquire artificially. We love hard, even though we know pain is inevitable. We forgive often, even though the cracks will always be visible in our fragile hearts. And yes, our hearts are fragile but it’s strong, stronger than a diamond. When we give our hearts, it’s a treasure rarer than said diamond as it would be unlike anything you’ll ever possess.

I’m always open to hear new opinions, random thoughts and late night musings so let’s be weird together.


Melanie is a Lifestyle Blogger and Editor at Rhose in Bloom.

You can get in contact with Melanie via:

Blog: Miss Pretorius

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In celebration of #WomensMonth, I open my platform to guest blogs. You are welcome to send your posts to wenchy@mweb.co.za for publication.

#wenchytude

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