How Thembi go her groove back

Hallelujah! Surgical safaris are back! For those of you who do not know what this is (like my husband) a surgical safari is when you come to SA from overseas to have a little trim and tuck, lift a boob, augment a bum, bypass that gastric situation, collagenise your lips or lipo-suck yourself back into a size 8.

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It is glorious; you get to make use of our magnificent medical facilities, pay in Euro’ and dollars, so it is dirt cheap, and you get to go home younger, slimmer and more beautiful. Plus, there is even a fabulous lie built in to the situation. When people back home ask you why you look so damn good, you can just say it was due to your amazing vacation in Africa.

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However, these days, there is absolutely no shame in cosmetic surgery anymore. This week ,Thembi and Thandeka checked in. They arrived in the biggest, blackest Mercedes I have ever seen. They were late for the check in as they had to swing past Hyde Park where they spent on two handbags what I spend on groceries in about 8 months.

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I make them sound frivolous; they are not. These women worked their way up from humble beginnings. They had hearts broken, ugly divorces, suffered losses emotionally and financially, but each time, theypicked themselves up, put their kids through back-breakingly expensive schools and now, in their early 50’s it is time for them to live it up.

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I sat with Thembi while she was enjoying a pedicure we organised on the patio while Thandeka was having her eye brows threaded nearby. She told me how her heart ached when, after years of building up businesses, her husband announced he was going to see if the grass was really greener on the other side. According to him, he was planning his exit from the beginning. He left her broke and depleted, but here she is. She pointed to the gleaming Merc and said, “That Ann-Magret was how I celebrated when ‘Thembi got her groove back’”.

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We have loved getting to know them better and helping them through the, often painful, recoveries. What inspired me about them was that they were fully accountable and authentic. They lifted those boobs and tucked those tummies, because they wanted to. This was no secret. This was a treat to themselves. They worked hard to gain financial independence so that lovers and husbands could not break them again. They openly admitted that mental health was a challenge, especially after being humiliated in a small community. They dusted themselves off, and triumphed with hard work and education. In a world where black women are often marginalised, they are victorious… and obviously after this week, even more beautiful than ever.

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I am so pleased that our own people are making use of “surgical safaris”. I am so grateful that our society is less judgemental about cosmetic surgery than it used to be, and that we acknowledge that a huge amount of healing takes place on the inside when we work on the outside.

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