Muofhe Manavhela is a 17-year-old student in Johannesburg, South Africa who is determined to change the way youth in her country perceive body image and flaws.
The young woman created a movement called Beauty With A Flaw in October 2016, which revolves around profiling different men and women who struggle with body image insecurities. The posts on the @beautywithaflaw Instagram account illustrate how a wide range of individuals have worked to overcome viewing their insecurities as flaws.
I learnt to truly love myself and my body no matter what it looks like.???? I struggled a lot with my self confidence and my self love. Growing up I was constantly reminded of how big i was and i tried everthing to change the way I look. Until I taught myself to truly love my body no matter how big or small or scarred it is.❤ now here I am ???? just know that you are enough, and that is okay. ????: @tshepi_m_ #beautywithaflaw #effyourbeautystandards
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on Oct 22, 2016 at 11:27am PDT
“The movement was solely inspired by my story,” she tells Yahoo Beauty on how the idea came about. “I did struggle a lot with my body image growing up. I was very plump and chubby. I was always told that I’m big or I’m fat — mostly by people I knew. Obviously hearing words like this wasn’t beneficial, as I was still a child and I was still developing.”
She says that she moved towards a point of acceptance as she grew older. “My teenagehood is where it all started. All the things people had said about my body only started catching up to me. I didn’t feel comfortable or beautiful in my own skin at all. Luckily, when I was 15, it became something that I started working on, and I think I could say from that time I was getting back on track.”
Reaching this point in her journey with self love brought about the body positive campaign and portrait series. “Most of the people featured on the account are friends of mine or people that I know,” she shares.
Self love noun. Regard for one's own well-being and happiness. Self-love is not only something that most teenagers struggle with, but it is something that is rather put down than taught or encouraged. Learning to have self-love is without a doubt a journey that needs patience and learning to have acceptance with the imperfections that you carry, its not learning to ignore them, its learning to love them, embrace them and be proud of them. I'm still on a long, bumpy journey of learning to accept my perfect imperfections, and it may be a slow painful process, but I am getting there, especially since I am surrounded with amazing people who make me feel so incredible and so happy, who understand my insecurities, who embrace my flaws more than I do because these flaws are what makes me- me. I've never had a supermodel body, or skin as clear as the Philippines' oceans, and its something that throughout these past few years, I've learned to accept that I don't need to wear tight fitting clothes or plaster my face with makeup to feel beautiful, because this is me. This is how God created me. And God creates all things beautiful. – Alexander Grossman Photo by Tshepiso Maebela Inspired by koty 2 photography #beautywithaflaw
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on Dec 1, 2016 at 9:32am PST
“They meet up with me for a photoshoot, and the captions are written by them,” she says. “The captions basically explain either their stories or something they want to say to inspire others. The opportunity is available to anyone who is interested in doing a photoshoot, but the hashtag is open for those who can’t,” she shares on the idea behind ‘#beautywithaflaw.’
Happiness is something that everyone looks for. As a person, I am generally a happy, bubbly person who loves cheering people up but while growing older I have been told at times that I must "chill" and I have been asked that how do I manage to stay happy. Although I had been told all these things. I decided that I will choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice. In life you can never change what people say about you or how many people will comment on you but you can change how you react. So rather focus on your happiness at first then influencing others with your happiness will be a bonus and it will be easier. – Muno Juru Photo by Muofhe Manavhela #beautywithaflaw
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on Dec 10, 2016 at 4:02am PST
“My biggest aim for this movement is helping and motivating young people,” she explains.
“I feel that teenagers struggle with their self confidence a lot and are under the pressures of our society. I just want to provide a platform where the youth can feel as if their free to be themselves — regardless of what they consider as their flaws.”
Here's a shoutout to everyone whose ever called me fat , overweight and obese ❤ I love y'all , you wanna know why? Cause my haters have become my motivators, thank you guys for motivating me not to care what you think and to improve myself ❤ I used to listen to your harmful words and believe them, but they are not true, I am beautiful, I am thick, I am sexy and your words don't hurt me anymore. I still have self esteem issues, but that's okay, I will get over them one day . No better you than the you that you are right ? – Chiara Richa Photo by: Tshepiso Maebela #beautywithaflaw
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on Nov 29, 2016 at 10:11am PST
Manavhela believes youth in South Africa can help change what is considered “beautiful” by society versus what is not. “I want to create a space where the standards of ‘beauty’ are being challenged and people are forced to think about that. Ultimately, I want to create a safe environment for young people,” she says.
“In my country, I truly believe that the real power and strength to change and develop lies within the youth — but our youth is so restricted from success because of a big underlying issue of self-worth and confidence. I want to change that. South Africa is great, but our youth can make it greater and I want to unlock that power.”
When a person thinks of the word beauty images of attractive people are what flash in their heads and those who they are not attracted to fall into the unattractive column but that is simply not how it is . Someone's "type" does not mean that anyone who is not in that bracket is unattractive . Beauty is instilled in all people of all races , heights , shades , sizes and all those other factors that people take into account when they make judgements on whether people are attractive or "not" . We are all beautiful period . In saying that , people are not being forced to be attracted to anyone what should be asked however is for people to stop seeing themselves as unattractive if just one person can not see your beauty , it is still there come hell or high water and you should know that and value yourself. – Laone Setshedi Photo by Tshepiso Maebela #beautywithaflaw
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on Nov 30, 2016 at 9:32am PST
You know I realised something, that we're all so focused on what people think about us, we're all brainwahsed into this idea of what perfection is. Who cares? Stop caring. Stop trying to measure up to what society thinks is ''perfect'' because, honestly, you'll drive yourself crazy trying to live up to what is socially seen as hot and not. I personally don't believe in all of that nonsense because truly no one is perfect. We all have our flaws and those flaws aren't negative but they are what make you stand out from everyone, what make you who you are. So own those flaws, own the small boobs, flat ass, thick thighs, stomach pooch, pimples… Whatever it may be, JUST OWN IT????, Marilyn Monroe said "imperfection is beauty" and I couldn't agree with her more. It's time to start living for you, don't be ashamed of any of your flaws. They aren't flaws, they are ENHANCEMENTS ???? and remember that beauty isn't all about how you look it's also about who you are on the inside and I believe if you are beautiful within then your outer beauty will flourish???? – Palesa Mphatsoe Photo by Muofhe Manavhela #beautywithaflaw
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on Dec 24, 2016 at 10:00am PST
Along with the portraits, she posts inspirational quotes to spread positivity with her followers.
“When people look at Beauty With A Flaw I want them to take back a feeling of empowerment, where they feel liberated to question and challenge all the beauty standards set by society,” she says. “To feel a sense of relief that they are not alone and to find the inner strength to find and look for the beauty within their flaws.”
A post shared by Beauty With A Flaw (@beautywithaflaw) on May 18, 2017 at 9:32am PDT
Manavhela says the ‘Beauty With A Flaw’ movement has built a tremendous following since its creation in 2016. “I’ve been able to engage and connect with many people, and I’ve had a few photoshoots now. I’m very proud of the growth. I didn’t expect it to grow this much and to impact so many people — so I’m very happy and grateful for that.”
The growing support system has contributed to her own journey with loving her body as well.
“Currently, I’m loving myself and I’m learning each day to be comfortable with myself. But yes, I do have my bad days where I struggle with my body image. Although — compared to where I was 5 years ago — I’ve really progressed on my self love journey.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty: