The reason why I never smile in Photos…

This post is extremely personal; what I am about to tell you today is something I have never told anyone before – not even my own husband.

I feel like I am about to pour my heart to you because… it is time, to be honest.

There’s a lot I have never spoken about on my blog – about me, my childhood and my family. But that is about to change because I feel as if it has been eating at me on the inside for years and… honestly – I can’t do this anymore.

I’m not perfect.

My life isn’t perfect.

I am a mess!

When Kiaan was born, I felt as if I went backwards instead of moving forward. To me, it was postnatal depression… I am going to write a post about this soon.

You are my strength and now I need you to be my support.

For many years, I have been uncomfortable in my own skin. I know that I don’t show it but I hated my body and I hated the way I looked.

It haunted me and made me extremely uncomfortable at school.

I always asked myself: “Why did God create me this way?”

Why couldn’t I be beautiful like the other girls in my class?

I finally worked up the courage to write about it today because I want this fear to be gone. I’m blessed and I am lucky to have what I do today – I need to let go of the past and move on.


I need to make a decision about the way that I want to feel for the rest of my life! I need to be happy with me and know that God created me this way.

I was bullied in primary school and during my Grade 8 year in Durban – A place once upon a time I called home.

I was called names that made me hate waking up in the morning and getting ready … but I never told anyone… because I was too scared to.

Bullying still exists and that scares the hell out of me – for my kids.

It tears you apart piece by piece until you look in the mirror and shatter.

Boys used to tease me for the way I looked.

I was the skinny girl with big teeth.

I was the ironing board who had skinny legs and no boobs.


For all these years, I was letting those “boys” control me and the way I felt about myself.

But it wasn’t only them.

I remember the first day I met my mother- in-law… She commented on my teeth and that was like a stab in my heart. Really? Are my big teeth all she sees? I wondered to myself.

Is it that visible that it makes people want to ask me uncomfortable questions?

I hid my feelings because I wanted to be okay with the way I am. I kept on saying, don’t worry its fine but the truth is it was never fine for me.

Years later, I am at a crossroad asking myself if it is too late to put on braces? Am I really ugly? Is it a big problem for me?

I was always tempted to put on braces but never had the courage to ask my mom when I was younger because she always insisted I was perfect. But for me, I was far from perfect.

I never smile in pictures because I hate the way I look; I hate videos because I hate the way I look…

The reason why I never smile in Photos

My point is sometimes we think something is going to be okay only to realize later on that it is still affecting us.

Don’t be like me, don’t be afraid to speak up! Share your feelings and say what matters before it is too late.

If your child is getting bullied, please don’t ignore it. Bullying is a serious problem – it’s something that can damage you later on.

I don’t believe that “big boys don’t cry”.  I don’t believe that we have to suck it up and roll with the punches. Because deep down inside everyone carries a fragile heart! In school, we used to say that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words would never hurt me…”

Words are the most powerful weapon. They can destroy and inflict invisible wounds. 

I tried to hide my pain under make-up and clothing but it didn’t work – I’ve been scared and now I’m trying to heal my open wounds.

You have been my biggest support system. You don’t judge me and you love me for the way I am.

Thank you. I will always be grateful to you for allowing me to be free.

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Hi, I’m Shan. I’m an entrepreneur and a sucker for good adventures. I was listed in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 2019 and just recently launched my start-up – MomSays.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. 2016-06-21 / 14:41

    This makes me incredibly sad to hear because you ARE so beautiful to me.
    You know what I think is weird/ funny? The older I get the more I like myself.

  2. Joles
    2016-06-21 / 14:55

    You’re beautiful Shan, inside and out <3

  3. 2016-06-21 / 15:00

    You are so beautiful. And so brave for sharing your heartache. I too was bullied in school. And you would think that I am over it, hey? I am 38 and it still affects me. I sometimes decline event invitations (especially the beauty ones) because I am too fat, too old and too ugly. And it sounds pathetic, I know! I wish I could just get over it. Please know that you are so beautiful, inside and out!

  4. Nadia Williams
    2016-06-21 / 15:03

    What Salome said!! You are so lovely, I’m really sorry you feel this way. Xx

  5. 2016-06-21 / 15:52

    I don’t know why but this post has left me legit teary and a lil sad. Not because I feel sorry for you but because I feel angry at the kids that bullied you. It is true, bullying is alive and well and it is a BIG problem. I only hope that one day you’ll be able to move past this and realise that all that they said isn’t true. I have met you once at the #Jozimeetup and I thought,and still do, that you are BEAUTIFUL not only outside but also inside. What they did to you back in Grade 8 may have caused a much deeper pain but just remember to hold on to the good that you hear and see; In yourself and your kids. You are a wonderful person and I wouldn’t change a thing about you. Stay shinning and Slaying Shaney.

  6. Shay Mohamed
    2016-06-21 / 19:23

    Hi Shan,

    What a hearfelt and honest blog post. Some humans are scum of the earth and they pass on their own insecurities onto others by bullying them. Its only the strong people who get through this that can truly get on with their lives.

    Ive noticed alot of hatred in certain communities if you apparently dont meet up to their expectations. But in reality we need to accept that whats acceptable to some people may not be acceptable to ourselves. We need to trust that we are all here on this earth for some great purpose and these horrible people will one day meet their own demons that they have created.

    Im proud of you for overcoming this fear and writing about it. Rest assured that you are a beautiful woman inside and out.

    Lots of strength and hugs and love.

  7. 2016-06-22 / 08:50

    I love your honest post – to me you are beautiful beyond words.

  8. Sarisha
    2016-06-22 / 19:39

    Thanks for sharing Shan. I was bullied at school as well. I was never the pretty girl and boys always made fun of me. I lost some “friends” because nobody wanted to be seen talking to the ugly girl, let alone be teased that I was their gf. It broke me. This is the worst fear for my babygirl. I don’t know how I would deal with someone who bullies her

  9. chantelle
    2016-06-23 / 00:17

    Hi Shan.. You are inspiring me every time I read your blogs without having ever me face to face. Your words sometimes are echoes of my own and that is what makes you amazing at what you are doing. Above and beyond that all I can say is YOU are beautiful inside and out!

  10. liz
    2016-06-23 / 16:05

    Shaney, u r fearfully and wonderfully made. Thats how the Bible puts it…. u r a masterpiece. Dont let anybody’s comments about u tear u down. I go thru this on a daily basis. Am petite and have become so much more aware of myself after my marriage. But u need to be happy with yourself. And as long as u rnt happy with urself, ppl’s comments will hurt. If its those braces that u think will set things right, go for it. I have crooked teeth and I so know what u r talking about.

  11. Cheryl
    2016-06-24 / 10:23

    You are absolutely gorgeous and know that you’re not the only one that went through that or going through it. Because YES it still happens! Not to take anything away from you and as sick as it sounds, knowing there are others going through the same thing makes it feel a little bit better. Unfortunately this is life. I am yet to find anyone that is completely happy with their lives. All we can be is strong and confident and feed off others that are stronger and more confident. Thank you for sharing something in sure was extremely difficult to think about let alone say/blog. You are appreciated ❤️

  12. 2016-06-24 / 21:17

    Ah Shan big hugs. I think you are beautiful and I never noticed your teeth. I noticed how well you are put together and your confidence which shines through. I think your honesty is going to inspire others to be open about how hard it can be to be a woman and a mom. But I really am sorry about the people who bullied you.

  13. 2016-06-27 / 14:26

    Ah Shan, I totally feel for you here. Both my Sister and I were bullied at school. Me for my fair skin and carrot red hair and freckles and her for her weight issues. They were the worst years of my life and still affect me daily. I am very judgemental of how I look and it stems from years if being told how “Abnormal” I was. So I just wanted to say that I think you are incredibly beautiful, inside and out and very brave for coming out to tell people about your own experiences. I just know that many many women are going to identify with you even more now.

  14. 2016-06-28 / 06:03

    This really struck a chord with me. I’ve had the same insecurities about my appearance. I once went on a blind date with a guy who told me my teeth are so crooked, I can hang keys off of them. Really? That’s all you took from our meeting. I wanted to get braces, I still do. But then I realise that these imperfect teeth are what make me so perfect. They’re me. They’re unique. Why would I want a perfect mouth anyway. How boring. I think you are gorgeous. Your big brown eyes. Your shining hair. Your full lips. I think you have an amazing face and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

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