Creating her own beauty standards: ThickLeeyonce is here to slay and stay
Donned in tight jeans‚ a see-through black top‚ heels and shades‚ the woman who most know as ThickLeeyonce oozes confidence as she walks into a busy newsroom filled with journalists all watching Jacob Zuma giving an interview to the SABC. And yet there is still a murmur when Lesego Legobane struts past.
She's been attacked‚ relentlessly‚ for her weight. Her looks. Her skin colour. And here she is‚ getting envious glances from women. At just 24 years old‚ she's gone through what many don't experience in a lifetime. With more than 133‚000 followers on Twitter‚ you can bet that her timeline is a beehive filled with stings all the time. And yet she's managed‚ mostly‚ to come out the better for it. The face the hate. To learn and know her own truth. And to be an inspiration to many.
Known for posting skimpy pictures of herself on social media‚ just as any skinny girl would do‚ Lesego admits that she never saw her life turning out like this. An inspiration and being a role model? Nah!
"It literally just happened. I got on social media and was just being myself. Posting pictures of my crop tops and my shorts. That's who I am at home. And everybody was like‚ 'who is this fat girl in crop tops and bum shorts?' Getting that slack turned things around. It made me get into body positivity. Who decides what a body should look like?"
She said that pushing through the hate made her see the light. There were women who were just like her. Not blonde. No blue eyes. And not a size eight. They were the ones who motivated her‚ giving her a platform to show other women that they can be whoever they want‚ size 44 and all.
Of course‚ like many of her followers‚ her journey hasn't been an easy one. She used to page through magazines and see women who were different from her. You know‚ thin and light-skinned.
"It messed with me for a long time. I used to think there was something wrong with me. Pretty privilege is real. Thin privilege is real. I saw how my prettier and thinner friends got treated differently and it was hurtful. By then I had started taking pictures and I started taking pictures of myself. I'd ask my mom to print them out and I'd put them up all over the house. The bathroom. The lounge. And I developed my own sense of self-worth... my own beauty standards. It was then that I started to fall in love with myself."
The horrible comments still hurt‚ though.
"Eighty percent of the time I don't give a damn. But I'm human and can be going through a bad day and see a message and it hurts. I also judge‚ so I realise it's human nature. And when I reflected on why I judged‚ it was because of my own issues. So these people are really just dealing with their own demons."
It's not just people being mean‚ it's also the fact that her weight has become a topic of conversation among health "gurus"‚ many slamming her for promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.
"Oh no! You don't get to call me unhealthy just because I'm fat. Why is it that health is only discussed with fat people? Why not skinny people? I have friends who eat pizza and smoke‚ but they aren't judged. I eat well. I go to gym every day. And you have the audacity to talk about health to me? Bye!"
While her social media presence is sky high‚ she's also running a photography business and has a clothing range. She said she would spend her time going through magazines and when she was about 12‚ her mom bought her a camera.
"I said I wanted to be able to take pictures like these people. They were beautiful images."
Having photographed some big names on the local scene‚ she has certainly earned her stripes. She said she has always celebrated a woman's body and believes it's a myth that Africans celebrate African women's bodies.
"We get these ideals from the West and they're ingrained in us. Women who are also curvy will slam me for showing my stretch marks. Stretch marks? Imagine. I'm like‚ 'Sis‚ look at you. We are the same. Look at your mom. We are the same.'"
As her confidence has developed‚ she has realised she is a loner‚ who can go "deep into my head" and forces herself to do things out of her comfort zone. It's the only way she's beaten her own demons‚ never mind other people's.
"Happiness is a choice. People are always going to talk and it is your choice what you do with that. I choose happiness."
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