Taida Lucy Christine Chikuni describes herself as a daring character and a people person. Raised as the only girl with three older brothers, she learned early on how to carve out her own path in the world. In addition to a career in human resources, Taida is a model.
Growing up was tough at times for Taida because people often focused on her weight.
“Body shaming was essentially a norm in life especially when I was younger, which is a time that you find children can be brutally honest,” Taida told The Weight She Carries. “Upsetting as it was, my parents taught me to accept the person I am and that I [am] uniquely me and no one can take the blessing that is being Taida away from me.”
“As you get older your resistance to body shaming thickens, although at times it may wear you down. You find yourself asking God, “Why? Why me?”Taida Chikuni
“All my life, I was told, ‘You have pretty eyes and/or a pretty face. If only you had a slender body.’ Backhanded comments became a norm. I would hide my hurt behind sarcasm and would actually make jokes about myself, my body, to pre-empt the company I [had] around from having an opinion about my body. Kind of like beating them to it,” she said.
Taida went on to say that shaming goes on through adulthood where one’s body weight is discussed when it’s not even relevant.
“As an adult you realize all attempts to shame you haven’t changed the person you are. You did the diets, you’ve done the workouts, you lost weight. Were you happier? No. Then you go on living your life, you find yourself in the ER with a sore throat and the doctors disregard that and go straight into discussing your weight,” she said.
“I have over time overcompensated [by] showing off my curves. I hated growing up being told ‘you’re pretty but big,’ so I have turned it around to ‘pretty big.’ Positive vibes only.”Taida Chikuni
Can you share one of the most difficult times in your life?
It was a time when tragedy hit as I had degenerated a disc in my back and was bed-ridden for a month. I would lie in bed and think that the weight was really going to kill me. I fell into depression. I had so many questions I could not answer, and all I could ask was ‘God, why?’
How did you manage?
I started physiotherapy and some weight shed off. I was mobile again but my spirit wasn’t the same. I was in contact with a therapist, Dr Nyarai. She helped me try think of ways that might bring that sunshine again. I was always glued on YouTube watching makeup videos and trying them out [on] myself and [my] family. I realized it actually brought some sort of sunshine, having a canvas I could express myself and see the final product.
How did you start modelling?
I was scrolling through my Instagram and I bumped into an advert for Iconic Models Zimbabwe – plus-size models. I was intrigued and brushed it aside for a while but I kept on bumping into the advert every time I would log on. So I auditioned and here I am, happy, confident and alive. Dr Nyarai calls it empowerment healing.
At first, I was intimidated by slender ladies but learnt very fast that there is a growing market for plus-size women. The fashion industry has become more [accepting of] plus-size models and fashion.
What is your advice to other women?
I would advise women that may be insecure that you matter. If YOU are unhappy about the way you look, then do something about it. Change your eating habits and do the workouts.
If that doesn’t work, guess the fact that you are still here and present, maybe there’s more to life. Find your purpose. LIVE.
Don’t let people’s misconceptions about big women hold you back. You are beautiful and you’re blessed with extra curves. FLAUNT THEM!
Some of Taida’s achievements include:
– Modelled some designer clothes in the ICONIC Winter Fashion Show
– Modelled plus-size clothing and advertised for Exceptional Impressions
– Modelled for an insurance company (to be published)
– Featured in Heart Entertainment Online Magazine (UK-based)
– Soon to be featured on Plus Size Lounge, an online talk show for plus-size women
You can follow Taida on Instagram (@thaidah) and Facebook (Taida Lucy Christine Chikuni).