At first glance you would think today’s prompts have nothing to do with each other.
1. Your favorite local food
2. Accepting love
Ironically for me accepting love meant that I had to cultivate a better relationship with food.
I really struggled to write and release this one because it’s definitely getting a lot more vulnerable but hey that’s why I joined this challenge, so here goes.
When I was young I was skinny, with long black hair that I used to love.
I was tall for my age and at 8 years old my abuser took notice.
He used to call me a model. Always said he was intent on teaching me what it would take to reach my full potential.
Many media outlets and articles always focus on the rape itself but few people talk about what happens to you after.
For me numerous things happened. Including Insecurities and depression but one thing that really changed was my relationship with food.
For a long time I wanted to be the opposite of the girl that was abused, the model.
I wanted to hide within my body and this meant gaining a lot of weight.
I always thought that the big girls were safer. Somehow I believed if I didn’t look like a model then maybe I wouldn’t be overly sexualized.
So I hid the skinny version of myself within piles of food.
Later I realized that, that didn’t matter at all. Despite my size, it still happened again.
My weight didn’t put an end to sexual harassment.
It didn’t make me invisible to the prying eyes and unwanted touches.
You’ve heard them, when you walk.
’What that ass do.’
‘Madhufu dhunda ndoanonaka manje.’
To quote a line from my book.
’I like my women bbw.’
A line born from the idle worship of a thespian by the name of Aubrey Graham. Most popularly known as Drake.
As the industry shifted, my family life was shifting and I became even more visible.
If you’re young, African and unemployed (especially living under a roof that’s not yours or your parents) you might have experienced this one.
‘Ukutofutaka nechikafu changu, uchingoswerodya panapa.’
‘You’re getting fat, eating my food.
Sometimes it was more direct, ‘Munenge muchingopedza chikafu panopamba muchitadza Kushanda.’
‘You’re always finishing food in this house failing to work.’
Then there were the other things were more subtle.
You can only drink juice once a day, or the food was in the pantry which was always locked. Or you know, you get that odd look when you stand up to go to the kitchen.
You know the looks.
And if the food consignment decreases just a little you know, you’re in for a long lecture.
This wasn’t just a one time thing or an occurrence in one house and over time needless to say I developed an eating disorder.
I just stopped eating.
I was saving up pocket money and surviving on jiggies.
Those things were real ass life savers.
Eventually my insecurities took over.
I hated the person that was staring at me in the mirror. I felt like I was no longer myself. So even after I moved back home I would skip meals and spend days without eating.
I was obsessed with comparing myself with all the beautiful faces I saw online. It wasn’t just the skinny girls that I wanted to be but it was the big girls who were confident in their own skin.
They were body positive and owning it but I was still hiding.
Then I met a friend, she was as crazy as me, dealing with her own crazy family and she loooved to cook.
Each time she would visit (which was everyday) she would first head to the kitchen or pass by somewhere to buy some chips.
They say you accept the love you think you deserve and boy is that true.
For years I was stuck in friendships and relationships alike that were always one sided.
They needed me but no one ever really saw me until her.
I know it’s a simple thing for most people. You’re probably thinking is this girl nuts but it was a completely new experience for me.
For years I had lived around people but no one had ever really paid attention to this simple thing.
So here I was shocked at having someone who cared whether or not I had eaten that day and boy did she care.
As a kid I had learnt that love either hurts you or leaves but now she was teaching me that sometimes love noticed.
Sometimes love stayed even when you tried to push it away. That sometimes love was in our sisterhoods and not in romance.
And sometimes, sometimes all that love wants is for you to accept love.
My journey with my body was a really long one, spanning years and is still ongoing.
At first she would force me to eat. From cooking to taking me to different places so I could start to enjoy food. And then she would even text and call to check in when she wasn’t there.
Honestly speaking I’m not sure how or when I eventually started loving food and accepting my body and learning that a part of loving myself was eating.
But I do remember the one meal that made a difference.
It was the simplest thing but it made a change.
It was at my best friends house and her Mbuya had made some Sadza. I don’t know what she did to those veggies or whether it was the fact the pork and veggies were one but that Sa changed my perspective of Sa forever.
Okay maybe if I’m being honest it was the fact that all she ever showed me was love and from that day I’ve associated Sadza with love and it’s become something that I truly enjoy.
Thanks for taking this 30 day challenge journey with me.
Love from Mandy