Táyra Augusto of Mozambique/South Africa is a singer, plus-size model and a chemical Engineer.
Growing up I always felt that I didn’t belong. I was chubby, tallish and was raised by a mother who was a beauty icon in Mozambican society.
I didn’t feel represented through commercials on TV that brainwashed me into believing that the core of beauty is ‘being skinny’ and that’s the only way people will accept you. If you succeed at being skinny, then boys would like you and girls would envy you.
It wasn’t long before eating disorders started knocking on my door, reminding me every day that if I ate that extra snack, I would have to starve myself the next day to compensate.
I always wished I wouldn’t let my overthinking, anxiety and depression get the best of me, but it did. It still does, but with time I have learnt how to deal with these daily challenges and have mechanisms to avoid reverting back to my old ways.
Because of these experiences, body positivity and representation mean everything to me. Part of overcoming my personal challenges was carving out space in the very industry that didn’t seem to include me.
As a plus-size model, I represent girls like me – that are not the norm of being tall, having a flat stomach and a gap between the thighs.
Small changes are happening – from stores displaying plus size mannequins to greater representation in movies – but we need complete inclusivity and that goes beyond size.
There are many ‘marginal’ bodies that are underrepresented in the mainstream media; when you add race and gender, there is a real necessity for Black, African woman models that look like me.
In the context of COVID-19, an October 2020 study shows that the anxiety and stress of the situation could be causing body image issues.
We need to give voice to these issues, and challenge what is considered the norm, have healthy debates about our relationship with our bodies and rejecting the conditioning we’ve experienced.
I educate folks to avoid commenting on the appearance of others unless asked, and speak up about loving every inch of yourself and embracing what you see in the mirror.