There I sat, on the magenta coloured single couch in my father’s office. He sat opposite to me, on his black leather CEO chair. He typed busily on his laptop, not even looking up. He answered or making phone calls from time to time.

I let out a heavy sigh as I dropped my eyes to the cell phone in my hands, smiling as I looked at the funny memes I’d searched for online. I was very bored, having had to leave school early because of a water crisis.

I scrolled through the pictures, hardly bothering to take a proper look at any. With hardly anything left in mind to spend the Wi-Fi on, I put my phone away. Resting my hand on the armrest, I closed my eyes and tried to go into another world. I was good at that, losing myself to another galaxy each time I could not stand the one I was currently in. There was nothing – just darkness.

Okay, what to do? I opened my eyes and sat up straight. I had no earphones, I’d forgotten them at home, so I couldn’t go onto YouTube and watch cool or funny videos. Without earphones I’d make a noise and disturb everyone.

I took my phone and switched it on once more, it doesn’t have any games, so there wasn’t much I could do with it. The internet, there just had to be something fun there.

Nothing came to mind. I typed in the word beautiful and on the suggestions text, women popped up. I tapped on it and the results came up. Results of, ‘beautiful women’.

Personally to me that doesn’t exist. Everyone is beautiful. It reminds me of a Trevor Noah show I was watching on television the other day, where he explained that every race is beautiful -that we are all beautiful in different ways.

So really, there’s no type to be set as the most beautiful or the only beautiful type. Everyone is beautiful, we’re just different. Every female is mesmerising, very gorgeous – a queen. That’s why the opposite sex has different tastes. We’re also not the same, they know that and they know what ‘beauty’ is in their eyes. The problem is when they start disgracing those who portray a difference to their liking.

But either way, I decided to check out the list. I wanted to see how many Africans make it. (What, Africans? Ha-ha!) None! I found not even one African female. Oh, the shock in me. My eyes widened, lips parted and half covered with my long slender fingers.

American singers and actresses over-flooded the list, with Bollywood stars as well. Black? Hello, where are you? Nowhere! (Well African American was there, but it didn’t count).

Not even one black female on the top fifty list of ‘most beautiful women’.

I started thinking, ‘It’s just a list of fifty women, there’s more’. So I clicked on the images tab. People, I almost fainted. My phone almost jammed because I was busy scrolling down so fast, hoping to see someone who shared a skin colour similar to mine. All I saw were white and Indian women. The Indians weren’t that much either, just a few actresses. I think not more than five African American females as well.

I took a deep breath and sat back on the couch. Okay, if the internet had a specific race for beauty then let me be specific. So I typed in ‘beautiful black women’.

African Americans, well they’re African, that’s their DNA but they’re not what I was looking for. I was hoping to see…well, someone like:

Lupita Nyongo, Jessica Nkosi, Anele Mdoda, Mapaseka Koetle, Nomsa Buthelezi, Nandi Mbatha, my mother or aunt, my math teacher, the lady I met in the taxi the other day, MaRadebe who sells amagwinya around the corner, my best friend’s mother or anybody I could relate to.

Beauty I could recognise I mean other races out there are being recognised as beautiful. What about us? What about black people? Then something came to mind, something that made me wonder if we really deserve to be recognised.

I took myself back to the time I found saddening posts on a meme page – n my favourite page. For weeks I felt too upset to waste my data checking the memes out. This is what had happened:

I was in the car on my way to school, eyes narrowed and face wrinkled in a frown. Irritation overcame me at that moment. There it was, a ‘funny meme’. It was body shaming – complete body shaming!

What’s worse is that they were talking about girls like me, you know. Those girls with less ‘meat’, the ones who couldn’t fit in a tight fitting skirt completely to make the material ‘stretch’’. The ones who ‘don’t eat anything’.

Yoh! I felt so upset at that time, I didn’t even think about my parents, who were sitting in the front seats. In swore in whispers. Was this country really full of so much hypocrisy?

I swiftly scrolled down, to the comments section. The first comments were so comforting; I felt my irritation slowly fading away. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, then opened them again. Scrolling down again, the good comments continued. Young women were defending the poor girl who was shamed in the picture in the form of a ‘meme’.

Young South African women were educating the ignorant through comments about the beauty of black women. Trying to tell men to stop dictating how a woman’s body should be or look like and that there is no ‘perfection’ when it comes to beauty.

But of course roses come with thorns. Through those beautiful and comforting comments were ignorant ones. I kept shaking my head whenever I read a negative one. The worst part was that the majority of them came from females.

I wondered if they had first put themselves in the shoes of the people being disgraced before tried to act all better. If they had thought about their feelings had the tables been turned? Instead of uniting and standing strong with fellow women, they were acting against them.

Is that what we’ve become? Where’s the support? Women turn against women only because they are favoured in a certain situation. How do we expect men to respect us when we can’t even respect one another?

Where’s the sympathy? What happened to the compassion? We are to guide and support one another and comfort each other in times of need. If we can’t stand together in a simple matter such as, our differences and beauty, how will we stand together when a woman dies by the hand of a man who swore to love her?

It pains me because I’m an African child who looks in the mirror and sees a reflection. Sometimes she is infuriated by that person she sees, because she hears the words of her fellow African brother and sisters. Words that play like a broken record in her head, telling her she’s not enough.

Sometimes I know I am beautiful, other times I feel I have no choice to question that. I know that everyone is beautiful. It’s our differences that make us beautiful. Others will always be ignorant, refusing to learn. I am not, I am open to learning and I know there is beauty in every single person.

You can’t compare the physical beauty of women against each other. You can’t determine nor define it. The beauty of women, it has no colour nor does it have a shape. You cannot identify it by its height or flexibility. Just because it is bigger doesn’t mean it is better. Her skin complexion being lighter doesn’t mean she’s the best.

Her sister with darker skin is of equal value as her. Every single kind of women is a beauty queen. She deserves to be in magazines, TV adverts and to be seen by the world. Bragged about like a new doll.


Tell us what you think: What makes a person beautiful in your eyes?