99FM – Your Inspiration Station

The Art of Fearlessly Loving Myself

Zodidi Gaseb is an inspirational Namibian whose TEdx talk was selected by TED as one out of only 15 talks from around the globe that inspired people in celebration of TEDx’s 1 billion views. Zodidi is also the Founder of African Naturals: events and natural hair products and a Positive Image Activist.

Zodidi prepared this article for us to explain from her own experience why learning to love yourself is a worthwhile process and one that needs to be done in all ways.

The Art of Fearlessly Loving Myself by Zodidi Gaseb

I love myself now, it wasn’t always like this though.

Growing up in the quaint coastal town of Swakopmund as one of the first black children integrated into a multiracial school was quite the struggle. From the differences in skin tones, mannerisms, preferences, language, culture and hair. My hair was such a topic of discussion at school and for a young girl of 10, it dampened my self-esteem because I was made to feel it was ugly and strange.

The hate for my hair crept up on me unexpectedly and I straightened my hair every two weeks. It was painful. I would burn my scalp and think it was normal, but what did I care? My hair was now straight like Cathy’s.

Fast forward to a few years later and I became pregnant with my daughter. Stretch marks decorated my expanding hips and thighs. I now not only hated my hair but my body as well.

I suffered from low self esteem, participating in habits that would substitute the love I craved.

My daughter was 9 when I cut my hair. Up till then, I wore weaves and still relaxed my hair. We had a simple conversation but It resonated with that little girl I was before I relaxed my hair. She wanted to relax her hair as well and I was against it, reiterating how beautiful she is and how gorgeous her natural curls are and she asked me why I put weaves and relaxers in my hair.

My son helped me cut my hair. Feeling the thickness of my own hair, the coils and curls, the kinks I had neglected and learnt to hate was liberating. Little did I realise that for the first time in years I had done an act of self love. I became more health conscious, whenever I would meditate, my children would join in, we did yoga together and took more walks. I would wear whatever I wanted, map thighs and all, curves flaunting and my afro out.

People had mixed reactions, some hated it, some loved it, but most importantly, I loved it. I loved myself. It became a daily affirmation, an art of some form to fearlessly love myself. The more I became myself, the more the opinions of others didn’t matter, the more people navigated towards me who wanted to learn to love themselves too.

Loving yourself is an act of rebellion they say. You have to go against a society that has been taught what beauty looks like. Against media that purports what normal is, how we should dress, act, look, behave for others to accept us and if you dare look different, you’re the other. You don’t fit in, you are weird, strange. Be a rebel I say. Be strange, be weird. The most interesting people usually are. Start with a daily affirmation, treat yourself to beautiful things, embrace the stretch marks, the flaws. Be kind to yourself. Write love letters to yourself, do all those things you love, and do it with childlike wonder. Take care of you, always, all ways.

Read the MYD Smart article with Zodidi, A Business Born Out Of Challenging Stereotypes, by clicking here