Now bigger women can shop happily
OPEN any women's fashion magazine and what do you see? Women whose bodies in no way resemble the bodies of the majority of women.
Studies show that nearly 70% of the women in this country wear size 36 and above.
The strangest thing is that this market is rejected not only by the media, but by the fashion industry itself.
For Mathatong Ntoane, a trained fashion designer and former lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, this situation was totally unacceptable.
So in 2008 Ntoane, who is also a trained image consultant, decided to do something about the situation
She started kenna.co.za, an online shopping guide and magazine based in Broadacres in Fourways, Gauteng, which celebrates fuller-figured women.
Kenna means: I'm who I am.
The 40-year-old's interest in the fuller-figured women's body image surfaced when she was doing her preliminary research for a post-graduate degree.
In essence the question she grappled with was: to what extent does body image influence women's shopping experience?
"After four years of reading the information I had accumulated led me to the conclusion that though most women experience body dissatisfaction, this problem was further compounded for fuller-figured women by a lack of societal support.
"This is a problem particularly in South Africa. In other countries clothing retailers who take fuller-figured women seriously experience noticeable growth in their profit margins."
The married mother of one says kenna.co.za is a platform that connects discerning, fuller-figured, style-conscious women who want information at the click of a mouse.
"The shopping guide aims to cover all aspects of appearance management, including tips and style trends, reviewing shops, a comment module for conversations and a free newsletter. Women of size 16/40 and above are our focus."
Among other things the content includes updates on sales, information about ranges, product reviews and rating by readers and forums for discussing shopping experiences.
Ntoane says their understanding of how a curvy woman's body shape differs substantially from the current ideal is their strong point.
"Our aim is to help fuller-figured women challenge body ideals, furnishing them with the tools that will help increase body esteem and sense of well-being. In addition, we also give plus-sized women the most practical ways to manage their appearance."
Ntoane adds that instead of spending precious time searching for plus-size products on many sites, kenna.co.za provides a platform where readers can access information via one site.
"Our biggest vision is to cultivate the market for the plus-size figure, empower fuller-figured women with skills that will give them the confidence to shop and disperse information about places to shop and where they can be served in a friendly, professional environment."
Ntoane says that they also aim to extend their brand to accommodate petite, tall people who have wide and narrow feet and very small busts.