By grade four I was wearing two bras because my breasts were too big.
By the time I got to university, it had become unbearable. I was wearing a 34-G cup and could not play sport because running was too painful and no one was making sports bras that could fit me. I think the worst part was how my self-esteem was constantly low, with men making lewd comments and undressing me with their eyes when I walked past them.
I really didn’t want the attention.
I felt I needed to do something about it. So I started consulting doctors. Some did not want to do it, saying I was too young and what if my future boyfriends did not like the scarring of my breasts.
No one asked me what I wanted and needed.
Finally I found a doctor who agreed and luckily I was on medical aid that partially pays for breast reduction when there is a medical need. These breasts were affecting my physical body; my lower back was constantly in pain. But I did not have the R10 000 that I would have still needed.
I tried working part-time jobs while studying but could never raise enough money.
Then I moved to Jo’burg and was told about free surgery at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. The procedure could be done for free but I had to lose weight first and be on the right side of the BMI [body mass index] scale. I lost about 11kgs but the back pain was unbearable. So I decided I needed to focus on myself, finish my degree, find a job and save up to get the breast reduction.
This year I got a job as an intern and though it’s not paying enough, I have been able to save to cover the co-payment on the medical aid.
On November 28, I got the operation done.
You have no idea how happy and excited I am about life now. People must be ready because I am going to embrace my body with all the scars that come with it. Now I can advocate for body positivity and enjoying the healthy body you have. — Nompilo Ntathu Zungu (24) as told to Athandiwe Saba