South African Beauty Blogger Sindiswa Makanya: A Story of Self-Love and Empowerment

Sindiswa Makanya is a South African beauty and makeup enthusiast. With a killer sense of style and unmatched makeup skills, I quickly realized I had to interview her to find out how she got to where she is today in the makeup world, and understand her inspiring level of self-worth.

For someone that grew up never feeling confident or loving anything about herself, she has come so far with her power and strength. She went from comparing herself to others to becoming self-loving and proud of what makes her different. With self-discovery, spirituality, and more details discussed in our interview she made that change so that no one could take her back to that insecure place. Sindiswa shared this message with me: no one should ever let personal growth be taken away. She explains, “you owe it to yourself to at least keep that safe.”

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OPENLETR: When did you begin your relationship with makeup and beauty and why?

Sindiswa: My real relationship with makeup and beauty began in grade 11. Most of the girls in my grade were wearing eyeliner on particular school days like formal assembly, and days we didn’t have to wear a uniform. I noticed that those wearing eyeliner brought out their eyes in a way I hadn’t really seen before, so I decided that I wanted to try it. As soon as I did, I loved it, and never looked back.

OPENLETR: How has your relationship with beauty and makeup changed over the years?

Sindiswa: Well, over the years my relationship with beauty and makeup has significantly advanced. I know a lot more about makeup, use more of it, and my view on beauty has definitely matured.

I love playing around with makeup, as it allows me to express myself creatively (there’s no end to what you can do with varying eyeshadows, or multiple lip shades.) And it also allows me to express how I’m feeling. For example, if there’s a day I feel confident and sultry, I’ll wear a smokey eye. If I feel soft and girly I’ll wear a muted pink lip. The options are really endless.

My view on beauty was at first very stereotypical and society driven, and I thought people, including myself had to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. In the black community that, for the most part, meant light skin (otherwise known as colourism – viewing a lighter skin complexion as more beautiful). So for a little while, I was so concerned with the lightness of my skin that whenever I got a shade or two darker due to sun exposure, it would upset me, and I would feel ugly. However, after getting to university and opening myself up more, I acknowledged different types of people and physical attributes, and it made me realize that the previous standard of beauty I had held couldn’t be the only thing that defined beauty. The way these people walked, carried themselves, and their confidence regardless of what they looked like inspired me to accept and love all of myself unconditionally. And that’s when I truly saw myself as beautiful. Now I know that there’s no standard to beauty; beauty is confidence, acceptance, and love.

OPENLETR: What do you love about beauty? And what does beauty mean to you?

Sindiswa: What I love about beauty is that it’s an individual thing. There’s no longer a “beauty standard.” It’s about individuality and celebrating it, it’s about self-expression, things that make us all the same, as well as things that make us all different such as our hair freckles, birthmarks, eye colour, face shape, height, weight, skin colour and tones (constantly changing due to different seasons). I love beauty for its complexity. One example in my own experience has been my birthmark on my left eyelid. I got teased and bullied because of it, and it always made me feel insecure and far from beautiful. But over the years of learning, experiencing and accepting myself, and what beauty means to me, I now love my birthmark!!! It’s something that’s unique to me, amongst other things, gives me my individuality, and makes me beautiful.

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OPENLETR: Is there anything about beauty that you don’t like so much?

Sindiswa: Beauty is such an amazing ideal that everyone fits into. But when talking about makeup, it’s kind of a different story. I personally LOVE makeup and to the extent that I’m working to make it my career as a makeup content creator and blogger. However the things that don't really sit well with me are:

1. The perception of makeup by “outsiders” –  people who don’t wear or understand makeup always think we do it for outside gratification, that we’re wearing makeup for other people. This could be true for some, but is definitely not the norm. We wear makeup as a means of expression of self and creativity. We do it for OURSELVES. How arrogant do you have to be to think I bought ALL this makeup, spent the last 2 hours blending my eyeshadow ‘til my arm fell off, and “beating” my face to the Gods, all for you??? Please!

2. Makeup wearers feeling like they HAVE to wear makeup because they don’t like themselves or feel confident without it. Because not everyone is on the ‘new age beauty train’, some people still haven’t accepted themselves fully, and thus feel they have to use makeup to feel beautiful, which should never be the case. I think before anyone puts on makeup, she should love their bear self first. I mean, that’s who you really are, the way God made you. Using makeup to hide that or needing it to feel beautiful is incredibly unhealthy. You have to learn to not only accept yourself, not only love yourself, but be exceedingly confident in who you truly are. That’s why feeling beautiful really matters.

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OPENLETR: Have you ever struggled with body image issues? If so, how do you handle that, and what advice would you give someone with similar struggles?

Sindiswa: I have definitely struggled with body image issues. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t. I used to hate that I had cellulite, had big hips, had small boobs, and I would be obsessed with having a completely flat and non-existent stomach. With body image, if you really don’t like something change it (i.e. workout if you feel overweight). But if you can’t change it, then accept and love it. And that’s exactly what I did; I changed what I could, and now love what I couldn’t.

The older I got, the more I accepted my cellulite. The older I got, the more I loved my small boobs and big hips. But if there was something I could change in a healthy way I did. And that’s why I keep an active lifestyle by working out 5 times a week, and that’s a decision I’m happy with. Now, I love my body, flaws, and all.

OPENLETR: What do you think makes beauty such a huge part of women’s lives around the world?

Sindiswa: Beauty is such a big part of women’s lives because we all want to feel beautiful, we all want to look in the mirror and be happy with what we see. We all want to be confident, especially, when going into the world and living our lives. Of course societal standards of beauty still exist, and some women are still chasing those ideals. But I think for the most part, beauty for women is personal and special to each individual.

Sindiswa’s story and message is more than inspirational, it is truly relatable. Women all over the world come from a place of self-doubt, but by following the steps that she has revealed, all women can get to a place where they are happy and proud of how they look no matter their differences.

Sindiswa Makanya, South Africa

Instagram - sndiswa