March 19, 2018
Love Your Fit and Walk Tall
By Khanyie Dlamini
Image source: Teen vogue
This month we celebrated International Women’s month and it pleasing to see how far women have come from a history of being labelled and oppressed. Decades into the twentieth century, we still hear stories about women being stereotyped or body shamed. Although these may not be vocalised, the subtle expectation of how women should be still exists.
Recently a screenshot of Miss SA’s pageant’s requirements for contestants made the rounds on social media. The requirements created an uproar from those who thought the pageant was stereotyping women and excluding others. Social Media users reacted saying the expectations of those who qualified to enter were not accommodating to the differences of South African women. Many believe the competition intentionally excludes women who have children, women who are married or are divorced.
The History of Stereotypes in the Modelling Industry and How it has Evolved
Previously the modelling industry was unforgiving and had unrealistic expectations about how all models should look. This resulted in any models being anorexic, with health issues or being too critical about their weight. The issues in the industry have lessened over the years with models being trained to have healthy lifestyles.
There is also more room for models with different body types and opportunities for them to thrive. More stores and brands have made the shift to accommodate diverse women and cater for different sizes.
Although we are in the era where women are being empowered and are given more opportunities, it’s unfortunate that the classification of women still takes place.
The impact of women confined by these standards is that it affects their self-image. It also excludes them from participating in what they would like to and limits the opportunities they have. When women are treated equally they enjoy opportunities that fulfil and prosper their lives.
Influencer Thick Leee Advocates #BodyPositivity
Image source: Times Live
Local influencer and body positivity advocate Lesego Legobane, better known as Thick Leeyonce continues to stand up for plus size women in the country. She posts messages of self-love and strongly opposes body shaming that women go through. The bubbly influencer who goes by @fatgalyonce on Twitter is not afraid to rock her shorts and crop tops and do photoshoots wearing clothes she feels beautiful in. She shares the photos with her followers and inspires them to love themselves no matter how different their bodies are.
Thick lee has collaborated with brands such as Woolworths, which helps the brand appeal to more audiences. Lee is someone who stands behind healthy eating, but she is also living proof that women can be fabulous no matter what size they are. She is a style icon who rocks trendy looks and embraces her curves.
Thick Leeyonce uplifts women around the country, be it skinny, chubby or women who just have body insecurities, to love themselves. She inspires women to be comfortable with who they are and encourages others to flaunt and love their bodies, flawed or not.
How the World is changing to Celebrate Every Body Type
The concept of expecting women to be the same size and living up to a standard of ‘perfection’ is slowly becoming outdated. The representation of diverse women is growing all around the world. More brands are relating to their woman customers and are personalising the services and products they offer to different women.
More women are feeling confident in their appearance and are accepting of their flaws. This transition is not intended to promote unhealthy living or to shame women that are skinner. But rather, to view women as equally valuable despite their body size and circumstances.
This promotes self-acceptance and to value each woman despite their different life journeys. For example, some women choose to be married and have kids, some have kids before getting married while others experience divorce. The different types of women in society are a representation of our diversity and should be celebrated and not criticised.
How can South African Women Love themselves more?
Although there are activations already taking place on social media and brand campaigns advocating body positivity, more women still need to learn to love and accept themselves. Women should not be made to feel like they are not enough or that they don’t fit in because of how they look and their status in life.
They should not be isolated from opportunities or be judged according to how the world sees them. This type of ignorance needs to be challenged so that South African women don’t feel the prejudice that sometimes takes place.
How can South African women Uplift themselves?
Women have amazing strength beyond what they look like and what they have been through. It is time for women to rise up from the sidelines and pursue goals that they have been afraid of going for. Eliminating fear is the first step, then loving themselves and accepting who they are. By knowing who they are, they can use this knowledge to go after the goals that will benefit their lives.
This may be going for a career you’ve always wanted to get into or starting a business venture. It could be beginning a course that you’re passionate about and doing something that fulfils you. There is a lot that you can achieve when you invest in your educational knowledge. When you study a course in alignment with your goals, you are able to fulfil your life’s purpose.
With self-belief and confidence as a woman, you can attain the success that you desire.
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