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My plus-size journey to Gay World SA and how I’m breaking the mould

We are raised in a society where the standard of perfection is set by the muscles, beautiful instagram pictures and fitness-oriented lifestyles of the few. We have forgotten to look in the mirror and appreciate what we have, because let’s admit it, not all of us were meant to look a certain way and this is what I’m trying to remind the world about.

I entered Mr Gay World South Africa completely aware of the focus the gay community puts on the way we look. As an overweight teen, body image was the most difficult thing to deal with because who’d ever love a fat boy like me? Now, at 27, I decided to take the chance and jump head-first into something that could potentially land me on a world stage, bearing my insecurities to all, and honestly, it scared me as much as it gave me a thrill!

All the contestants had just under a week to campaign and I wanted to make sure that from the get-go, people understood who and what I was about. Entering the competition was not to promote myself, but to tell every overweight and skinny person out there, that they’re perfect! No matter what other people have to say, or how often they remind you of it.

A lot of us also mistake body image and health. We forget that there is a line between the two. We need to accept that everyone has a story, a reason they are and they look a certain way. We are quick to defend ourselves yet find it easy to judge others. Honestly, that’s wrong! For me, being thin has stopped being a goal because it’s not a prize. If I am to live an authentic life, I have to start by being true to myself, all of me!

I learnt a quote that teaches: I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me – Trance. This is something I carry with me and try to internalise everyday. So, even after hearing that I did not make the top 3 of the competition, I realised that my journey is far from over. I’m building my campaign #UnboxMyBody. This body-positive movement will encourage everyone to flaunt their flaws because no matter who you are, there is something you don’t like about yourself, and you’d be surprised who shares the same insecurities. This will break stigmas and create a support network because enough is enough

I’ve learnt to unfollow all these fit boys who make me feel bad that I’m not conforming. I’ve started following and I applauded the #Thick #plussizemodels who own their space on Instagram and it also does wonders for me, seeing how being brave happens one action and one day at a time. Body image is a touchy subject, but I refuse to be dictated to! I am bigger, curvier and have just as much personality. 2019 is a year of change, this year I #UnboxMyBody and invite you to do the same!

Martin Headger is a contributing writer for the Anova Health Institute and these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.

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