Believe it or not, this was Miss Environment Contest, Southern region at Mount Soche Hotel, pool side. And yes, I won the contest and went on to win the national finals as well and I was crowned Miss Environment Malawi 1996 beating 8 other contestants all of whom must have been 10 years older or even twice my age, I was about 16 years at this time. It was an event not without significance as I appeared in the daily papers for 3 days running and my mother ended up appointing herself my chaperon I think she still is to date.
If you look closely at the picture below, the shape and size of my legs was very funny, and I frankly do not know where I got that suit from but I do remember from where I got the shoes, Foot Wear, in Limbe; they were expensive too, MK800 or thereabout.
Anyway, for the longest time, I suffered at the hands of those who had problems with my leg work; they argued that they were too skinny for a person with my height and weight and they also had a funny shape. They said they looked like toothpicks and that they were to be used strictly for walking as running was at owner’s risk. They said all of these things in my hearing and at times as I passed them etc.. To me, it was never about what they said, it was all about what I knew myself to be….. And well guess what? This never stopped me from wearing above the knees clothes all the time because I was born with gigantic levels of confidence. The tenacity and veracity with which I carried myself was enough to intimidate my bullies. Everyday even without having a bath, I exuded and oozed of unexplained confidence that even surprised me at times. I have always believed that my happiness comes from a place deep inside of me and that means that irrespective of what my actual environment is telling me, but if I feel happy inside, you best believe that I will be.
And so I watched the men and the boys on this day, some cheering me on, and some making fun of me. But the more they jeered, the more they fuelled that inner confidence within me and I worked that runway with everything I had as though my life depended on it……..and I won on all categories, disposition, answering questions accurately with a very good command of the English language too which was rare for a Form 3 learner at the time, the catwalk itself, the confidence and even, yes, even the dressing however funny this looked, the judges saw something totally different to my unfriendly crowd.
Body shaming has been there for the longest time. And though most people may not admit it, it actually erodes a person’s self esteem and brutalises their inner confidence. Every person who capriciously shames another person based on their body shape unintentionally exposes their inferior status with aplomb. Smart people do not deal with things that can not be easily changed. Critique someone on something in which they have power to change. People can change their attitudes, motivations, behaviors etc but it is hard for them to change their bodies unless of course they go through very expensive plastic surgeries. But even with surgeries, you must do it for YOU and never to please somebody.
But listen here, it is not about the size and shape of your butt, your legs, your breasts, nor the contour of your ridges on your chest otherwise known as a six pack or rumble surface, if your brain is empty and you have nothing to offer to this world, you may have a body fit for Miss and Mr Universe, but you are as good as empty as a rural primary school classroom during the time of coronavirus lockdown and each time you open your mouth, the resounding noise therefrom will be appalling and sometimes well, disgusting……
Check yourself, and never underestimate the power of inner beauty……

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