K'Lee for Newshub
OPINION: Why can't 'being beautiful' mean strength? Kindness? Mana?
My mother has always been those things to me. As a kid I would think about how amazing and beautiful she is, then one day I watched her tear herself down in the mirror: "My butt’s too big", "I used to be a size 8, then after you kids..."
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I realised she didn’t think she was beautiful, and that hurt. If my mother thought her curvaceous body was ugly, then what was mine?
I developed insecurities, went through lows, and tried diet after diet. This was extra hard once I got into the public eye as a singer - I remember crying when given a pair of hot pants to wear, because I thought my booty was too big. I laugh now, because looking back, there was nothing wrong with me!
We are all made up of different DNA. Genetics tell us we are never going to be the same size, and hardly any of us will have the Victoria Secret model body. My Maori and Scottish genes means I'm just not.
My body has got me through some amazing events in my life. I've boxed, I've finished triathlons, I've played rugby, snapped my achilles playing netball. But even more so I've carried and given birth to four beautiful children - including one via Caesarean section.
Yes, I have a huge scar, and with each pregnancy, I got more and more stretch marks - as a matter of fact each time my weight fluctuates I got those damn things.
But I never want my kids to see me looking in the mirror, criticising my body and telling myself I’m not beautiful. That’s not a message I want my daughter to get. It’s really important I don’t put myself down in front of her - or at all.
Seven months after having that C-section, I’m on Dancing With The Stars. If you’d told me I’d be shaking my booty all over national television, I would have told you to kick rocks - ha! But being on the show has meant I discovered something: Not only was I finding my groove as a mother, partner, a woman - I was also feeling strong, empowered, and confident.
Our bodies are amazing. Our spirits are unbreakable. Our bravery is beautiful.
Sure, I still have moments where I question "oooh that might be a bit too short, or "'too many wobbles revealed there," but then I remember everything I’ve gone through to get this body, everything I’ve done with my life, and I think, what am I actually scared of?
I've finally learnt to celebrate myself, be more kind to myself.
Seeing other beautiful, strong, confident women out there who are juggling life makes me feel so proud. It definitely helps to surround yourself with likeminded women, to pull you out of those dark moments where you start to over-think and question yourself.
Beauty shouldn't be in the eye of the beholder, it shouldn't be a physical image, it should be a feeling you nurture within yourself.
Being beautiful truly does mean strength, kindness, mana.
K'Lee is a Mai FM presenter and contestant on this year's season of Dancing With The Stars NZ