Black South African men might indeed admire a woman with a slender physique--but they would probably opt to marry one who is larger, said Tshabalala, the beauty pageant promoter and a man with a petite frame.
This is especially true among the older generation, said Marion Goldspink, an international technical consultant for Sofn'Free hair and beauty products in Johannesburg.
"It appears that when they are mature, they like their women to be built like real women--childbearing hips, fuller figures," Goldspink said. "They would class the model-like woman as a career woman. But when a woman has [a fuller] body, they think she is going to be loving and more caring and she is going to take care of their needs."
Psychiatrists here say one of the keys to physical and mental well-being is learning how to appreciate what you have.
After a rocky start at the hospital, Gcina feels that she is on the right track. Her food intake has more than doubled to about 2,000 calories a day, and she now weighs more than 90 pounds. She feels happier and already more confident.
"I have learned how to love myself," Gcina said. "Beauty is not about being thin. You are never beautiful when you are too thin. It creates problems. We should accept ourselves the way we are."