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S Mag

The digital creator: Lungile Thabethe

As part of a Women’s Month special, the Brutal Fruit ambassador talks about collaborations, her new furniture design company and being a woman in 2021

I’ve always believed the 'strong black woman' narrative is used on us so that we accept anything and everything, says Lungile Thabethe.
I’ve always believed the 'strong black woman' narrative is used on us so that we accept anything and everything, says Lungile Thabethe.
Image: Steve Tanchel

Lungile Thabethe is a celebrity makeup artist, beauty-content creator and digital entrepreneur. She recently launched her online furniture design company Glaze Home Decor, in collaboration with House & Garden and exhibited at the magazine’s first Designer Showcase exhibition.

The influencer/social media star, affectionately known as “Lungi” among her followers, has collaborated with numerous brands on a variety of campaigns. Most recently, she was announced as head makeup artist for Mr Price’s first-ever beauty brand Scarlet Hill. With 380,000 Instagram followers and 40,000 subscribers to her YouTube beauty channel, this content queen has partnered with Brutal Fruit on the #YouBelongAsYouAre campaign.

Durban-born and Joburg-based Lungile is the fourth of five sisters, one of whom is TV star Ayanda Thabethe. The sisters were raised in a woman-headed household.

The best thing about being a woman in 2021 is exactly that in itself. I can’t pinpoint one thing as the best, as there are so many positive attributes we encompass that contribute massively towards society. I believe women to be the bedrock of the communities from where we are raised. However, the unsafe situations we often find ourselves in, when we are at the mercy of men and unjust systems, are disheartening.

I’m frankly over the idea that my strength as a woman can and may only be measured by the amount of trauma I experience, be it emotional or physical. There is strength and value in my femininity
Lungile Thabethe

In its protection of women, SA has miles to go. I believe the policies and foundation of how societies could function at an ideal are there; the implementation itself seems to be the issue.

I also see that cultural and religious norms and teachings at times hinder the strides that women have made towards establishing and solidifying our place in society as not only nurturers but also change-makers in business and politics. The continent as a whole has a long way to go in terms of the empowerment of women.

I think it would be great for SA to have a woman as president. I don’t necessarily believe the country to be ready for such a transition though. There are so many strides SA needs to take as a country — just based on respect and equality towards women before considering a woman president. However, in the same light, drastic changes are sometimes needed for considerable change to take place.

I’ve always believed the “strong black woman” narrative is used on us so that we accept anything and everything. I’m frankly over the idea that my strength as a woman can and may only be measured by the amount of trauma I experience, be it emotional or physical. There is strength and value in my femininity.

Sisterhood is extremely important to me. From a young age, the sisterhood that surrounded me has been the foundation of who I am and the place I go to find solace. Sisterhood, therefore, means empowering the next woman as you would wish it upon yourself. Opportunities aren’t always readily available to us, especially not within the work environment, regardless of faculty, so it is important to take responsibility for empowering the next woman in the space you are in.

In March 2020, when the world stopped, I wasn’t as affected by the pandemic. The initial lockdown did not cause a huge stir in my work life as a digital creator but rather presented itself as an opportunity to grow since the world was now completely online. I’d also completely moved my entire business to digital at least a year before the pandemic hit. That, as well as good financial planning for a rainy day, meant that I was comfortable.

However, as soon as the first lockdown ended, the severity of the situation hit me as work opportunities dwindled; the marketing budget is often the first to go in moments of crisis. Looking back at the past year, I am grateful, and I believe my sisters are too, to have been taught the importance of being financially savvy. This was always a conversation in our home and one that has been of tremendous value to me during these trying times.

Few people know that after matric I was a Rotary exchange student and spent a year in Belgium. I was always a top-performing student. After I finished high school at St Francis College in Mariannhill, a strict Catholic boarding school that did not offer any arts-related subjects, I ventured to Belgium and took classes in fine arts and jewellery design at the art school in Tienen. When I returned to SA, I studied politics at the University of Joburg. I would probably have followed the diplomacy route if my love for the arts did not lead to content creation.

I am completely content with my journey and where I am. I accept all the mistakes I may have made in the past and believe that, within me, I have all the tools I need to achieve all I aspire to. I’m also getting into ownership in the makeup space. You’ll soon be hearing all about that. I want to grow my furniture company, Glaze, and open a store post the pandemic.

Brutal Fruit #YouBelongAsYouAre means you’re created perfectly as you are and belong in society in that exact way. You may not feel as confident at times, you may doubt yourself, you may even believe your quirks to be something you need to change, but the truth is that you belong as you are. You are loved and valued, and it is time for you to own it.

Follow Lungile Thabethe on Instagram and Twitter.

This article was paid for by Brutal Fruit.