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Proudly plus-sizes shine

They may have been labelled “big”, but they’re shining like seven angels.

A group of women called Mystique, from different areas in the southern suburbs, will be competing in the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (Fisaf) International World Fitness and Hip-Hop Unite Championships to be held in Leiden in the Netherlands from Thursday 18 to Saturday 20 October.

The group is made up of seven “plus-size” mothers between the ages of 35 and 60. They are Janice Erasmus from Constantia, Alexia Prins from Heathfield, Ayesha Fakier from Wynberg, Lucille Richards from Retreat, Miranda Parker from Southfield, Desiree Keersemaker from Table View and Shakeelah Talmarkes from Mitchell’s Plain.

Erasmus beat the odds with her determination to play a part in changing how plus-size women are viewed by society.

She grew up thinking her body size was inappropriate and she was different.

“When I was young I definitely noticed a difference in my size when I was at the beach with my more petite friends and I felt like I was wrong, or maybe something was wrong with my body. I was the biggest in my ballet class. Growing up I was sure that being curvaceous or being full-figured was not perhaps what I was supposed to be, and I tried hard for many years to go against my natural body type. I realized at 14-years-old that no guy was going to be able to pick me up in ballet because they were too weak. I was not going to beat myself up for being too heavy.

“Media has always made us believe that in order to be fit we should be skinny, but I love how strong my body has become even though I am a big woman. I dance and train for hours and enjoy physical activity.”

It is through this passion that she and her crew entered a regional competition in May where they won provincial colours in hip-hop and later came second at the nationals.

She says going overseas will be a dream come true for some of the members.

“For some it will be the first time flying and representing our country and want to create body positivity among women of all ages.” She says women need to realise that regardless of shape or size they can still dance and take part in competitions, taking the stage with pride as a plus-size model, dancer and mother.

“Even if we do not win, we showed up. We represented and broke boundaries. Hopefully we will make South Africa proud.”

In order to accomplish this they need support to raise funds as an organisation to pay for their costs without affecting their community-based music and movement programme which empowers children from different backgrounds.

V For more information on helping the women financially, email janice@jirehsa.org.za.

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