Leopard Print

“If I have a daughter or son who is leopard print like me I will teach them to love themselves no matter what they look like because nothing can get to you if you have profoundly entrenched confidence and self love.” – Sinenhlanhla londiwe Meyiwa Magcaba

By Sinenhlanhla londiwe Meyiwa Magcaba • 

When someone talks about leopard print, one would think high fashion, cat walk or maybe even a-lister, but that is not the kind of leopard print I want to talk about today. I am talking about leopard print on a human body, from the face all the way down to the legs, I am talking about a leopard print that makes me the owner of the body cursed with the leopard print cringe. I don’t cringe because I am shallow, or because I do not practice self love. I cringe because leopard print really does not look good on a human body.

I can not recall how I accumulated all the spots and scars in my body, but I do have a hazy recollection of me having huge sores on my body all around my body. They would appear consecutively as if they tell each other that when you’re done I’m next. I am not sure if it’s a contribution of poor hygiene, lack of knowledge from my parents part, and unaffordability of effective, and on par ointments and lotions for sores. I think it’s a combination of all three.

Half the time, I forget that I have leopard print on my body but the minute I see a girl or woman or even a guy with legs, arms and back that are immaculate, I cannot help but think of my legs, arms and back, I can not help but think about if they also cringe like I do when they see my leopard print.

I am self conscious most of the time if I wear a short skirt or dress, my says that its nothing she also has spots and scars all over her legs, but she is living just finer with nothing hindering her. My mother does not understand that we live in two separate worlds, and we are of two different generations. Most of the people in her generation care about whether you are married to a rich, financially stable husband, or not. Most of the people in my generation care about whether you will be slaying in your bikini at the beach when summer comes or not.

As much as I hate to admit it, I also want to slay in my bikini with my immaculate body, but I am too self conscious to do that. The society we live in is way too cruel to allow me to forget that I have been cursed with the leopard print all over my body. If I even dared to go to the beach in a bikini bottom, I am pretty sure people would take videos and pictures of me, and write all kinds of body-shaming, disrespectful memes. I know I’m not strong enough to withstand that, and take it all in like a beast.

Never mind my gigantic pig looking nose, you know I was not born with a nose this big and it was not shaped like this either. I have my mother’s nose, but now it looks like my nose takes after her nose. It has a line that seems to be separating my nose in half, and that’s thanks to my dry sinuses that I would try to alleviate with pressing my palm against my nose and push my nose up and sideways. By the time my mother told me to stop doing it, it was already too late.

Hopefully one day, I’ll be affluent enough to afford laser therapy and other procedures, lotions and oils, that remove scars and spots that have been embedded in the skin for years. If not, I guess I’ll never wear a bikini bottom ever in my life because my bum does not only have the leopard print, but it also has stretch marks; and trust me that is a combination that would make you vomit.

On the 4th of January 2019, I was at the beach but I did not swim. I was there to monitor my two eight-year-old twin cousins, and something got to me. I saw many children between the ages of 4 to 11 wearing bikinis, and some of them were leopard print like me, but they did not give an inch. They were happy and joyous and care free, and for a second I also wished I was carefree like they were. They seemed so happy and ecstatic, and they did not even seem to notice the spots and scars all over their thighs and legs.

If I have a daughter or son who is leopard print like me I will teach them to love themselves no matter what they look like because nothing can get to you if you have profoundly entrenched confidence and self love.

Sinenhlanhla londiwe Meyiwa Magcaba is a depressed sexual violence survivor and aspiring writer who wants to change the Black community’s beliefs and norms explicitly through her writings.

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Black Feminist Collective is an intergenerational group that stands for Black liberation in its entirety, centering the voices of Black feminists and womanists.

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