A Catharsis Of Sorts…

“It’s hard not to stand in awe and enchantment with the beauty in which nature expresses herself.” – Steve Maraboli

People who know me well know that it’s so difficult for me to wear shorts in public. I have what white women consider as beautiful legs, I mean between the hiking and running away from my problems/responsibilities, my leg game is pretty solid. Yet, I don’t just wear shorts casually, it’s a stressful and long process each time. Funny though, I love wearing shorts on hikes or when I go running.

You’re probably thinking body image issues, right? Hold on, Suzanne! I’m quite happy with the way my body looks and I can say with a straight face; “I woke up like this!” and feel no shame or need to overcompensate. I had personal struggles with certain parts of my body in high school, but it was because of bullying from people who thought I was the ‘ideal’ body type and didn’t like the fact that I was comfortable and happy with everything so they created “blemishes” and made me see them as such too. Anyway! Okay so I’m supposed to be talking about the self-confidence I’ve collected over the years in the mountains.

Right! How do you change/wash on multi-day hikes with no ablution facilities? Why, you “swim”, and most of the time in your undies. Hikers do this a lot anyway: they find ANY body of water and strip down to their undies and jump in, ain’t nobody got time (and room in their backpack) for a swimming costume! Because there are so few resources, or safety is an issue we often go to change/clean up in numbers and people see you and you see things too. Not many of us can sommer take their shirt off, but after 3 days on a trail, body positivism is hammered into you if you overthink these things. I’m not those aesthetic hikers/models who hike in their sports bras, I’m always covering up, but I’m not shy to pose for a picture in just my sports bra because I think I have really cute activewear.

I had always wanted to do the topless-on-a-mountain pose I always see on Instagram, but always never found the right photographer. And courage. So about two months or so ago, my Adventure Squad took to the scenic Kogelbay beach and made a day of it. While on the beach, I suddenly had the idea: the topless-on-the-beach-facing-the-mountain pose! I shared the vision with my friend and she was on-board immediately, and there was (liquid) courage to finally do it! I did it and it felt so damn good! I felt bare and exposed, but that was okay because the mountain was my audience. And I flashed her real good. I’m a Master of Philosophy in-training so you can imagine how deep I could get with this.

I repeated the pose on a different hike at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch a month ago, and this time in front of a waterfall and I think I’m bordering on nudism and naturism so I will stop right here. Perhaps the next time I do it will be on a sand dune in a desert somewhere with no mountain and waterfall to bear witness because I’m way past needing validation and at my body positivism* prime!

* I realize the sacarsm won’t read well on paper, so I’ll elaborate. I hate the concept of body positivism because bodyshamers use it to conceal their problematic comments about people differently bodied from them.


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