If you've got the curves, ladies just flaunt them
Lesego "ThickLeeyonce' Legobane is known for flaunting her curves and encouraging thick girls to dress better and show off their bodies.
Obsessed with Beyonce, she is a woman who owns her weight and does not apologise for being stylishly sexy.
"Yes, the two coincide. I am both stylish and sexy, " says the 25-year-old.
As a young girl, she struggled to find youthful and fashionable clothes that fit.
"I was always a chubby girl. I never had a flat tummy or small thighs. I would go into these plus-size shops and the clothes screamed old and ugly," says Legobane.
"I wanted something that revealed my age, my love for fashion and my love for dressing up. So I would buy an item and cut it up, stitch it up and totally transform it to suit me," she says. "I started fashion blogging and women responded, wanting to know where I buy my clothes. I saw a gap in the market."
This is where she and friend Rebecca Garande joined forces and birthed their online fashion label, Leebex.
"We named it after ourselves because we are involved from the start to the end process of all garments.
"We wanted to create affordable clothing that ordinary big women can access. We wanted it to be stylish, but still sexy.
"Profits don't matter as they are very minimal - but the joy we get from satisfied customers who are able to look good is enough," she says.
The range is sold online and consists of everything stylish and youthful - from sheer bodysuits, flowing maxi dresses, bodycon skirts, crop shirts, on-trend kimonos in an array of colours, and lots more.
Legobane says they are punting more pants, short skirts and shorter dresses.
"Fat women like wearing maxi dresses. They are amazing and are a hot seller but I want to break boundaries by telling them to wear shorts, short dresses and fashionable pants," she says. "I understand that not everyone shares my style . But gosh, when it's hot outside wear your short sleeves, even if you have stretchmarks. Why hide it for the comfort of others? Don't wear a hoody in 30ºC weather."
About expanding her brand to cater for the skinnier girls as well, she says they already have the biggest piece of the pie.
"They are spoilt for choice. But big girls struggle. Hence we cater strictly for sizes 36 to 48. And we are proper plus size, unlike most conventional stores who use Chinese sizing and patterns."
Legobane still receives some hate mail and comments about her weight.
"Negativity started with me when I hit puberty. I hated myself for not being thin, wanted a smaller waist, sharper nose, lighter skin and longer, silkier hair.
"I learnt to love and accept myself eventually and that's when I started putting my feelings on social media. I want to uplift girls who feel the way I once felt," Legobane says.
"[I] Tell the haters that hating on my body is a reflection of who they are, not me. Today I am proud that Nobuhle Mahlasela from 7de Laan wears our clothes and so does [comedian] Celeste Ntuli.
"Big brands are calling me when they want me to style their shoots with our clothes. It's a blessing," she says.
"Also, I look after myself more because I love myself more now."
Tema's Plus-Fab affords plus-size women a chance to be fabulous as they are
Ouma Tema has been in the plus-size business for the past seven years and her tune about rocking curves with confidence hasn't changed.
If anything, her fashion label, Plus-Fab, has moved away from partly conventional to all-out sexy and free.
"Plus-Fab is geared towards the fashion savvy, modern day, plus-size woman who is looking for plus-size fashion that not only fits but accentuate her curves," Tema says.
"We create a range of clothing that embraces as opposed to covers up curves. Plus-size women of our time are not looking for what fits but what is sassy, chic and fabulous.
"The motto 'not just the right size' is the key principle at Plus-Fab. Our designs are not only timeless but comfortable, fun and confidence-boosting. "We make every outfit a statement."
Tema, who started the label as a result of her own struggle to find fashionable clothes, says the time has come for larger women to feel comfortable and not stress about conventional standards.
She says no one should be dressing up in tent-like clothes trying to hide their bodies.
Her designs range from stylish mesh tops, figure-hugging bodycon dresses, cleavage-revealing maxi dresses, silhouette-defining jumpsuits to fairytale tulle skirts.
"We designed a crop-top dress recently which flew off the rails in literally a week of launching it. Plus-Fab is true to its consumers and not trends. I'm a very strange designer.
"Every single outfit is inspired by one thing or the other. My upcoming winter collection, which will be at The Space nationwide and Spree, is at the core influenced by a working woman who wants to go to work and meet friends for drinks without having to go home to change.
"The woman of this collection is without a doubt a boss lady in her own right," she says.
To be fat and fabulous, she says, the secret is that no one should ever give you rules you were not part of creating.
"Be true to your body and yourself and trust your sparkle. Be Plus-Fab or die trying," she exclaims with a wink.
Too thick, too fab and too sexy for skinny
While Khloe Kardashian is advising women on how to pose to look slimmer, Kelebogile Serokolo is on a mission to get thick.
The 21-year-old fitness influencer says skinny is so yesterday.
"Yes, my weight gain was deliberate. I started off on Instagram when I was around 18 and before that I was trying to lose weight most of my high school life.
"Then I saw toned, muscular but sexy women such as Kathy Drayton Freeman on Instagram, and that inspired me to want to become bigger. I wanted to be thick but toned at the same time," she says.
Born and raised in Potchefstroom, North West, the student says she gained weight by using weights and "dirty bulk eating".
"I started lifting weights, only without cardio, and I built muscle under the fat I already had so my legs got bigger and toned and I loved the results.
"Once I started learning more about the gym life I started doing cardio, just to clear out unnecessary fat for muscle visibility and overall strength and mobility.
"My eating habits also have a lot to do with everything.
"I'm a student on a tight budget, so sticking to a diet is very difficult.
"During winter I 'dirty bulk' - this meaning that I do very little cardio and more of weight training while eating a lot of dirty carbs such as pastas, white rice, pap, etc. I basically eat anything I want during this time period and lift weights. Dirty bulking is not necessarily a good idea but it's the cheapest. You gain fat and then convert it into muscle in the gym by weight training.
"Then in spring/summer I train lighter weights, more intense cardio and eat cleaner... I cut down on carbs and focus on my proteins . A lot of veggies and meat/fish and I only allow myself the occasional treat. Fruits are my best friends in summer. So that's how I get my booty and thighs...," she says proudly.
Serokolo has now taken her journey to social media to motivate others who want to do the same.
"I went through depression and I lost my friend to suicide because she did not feel mentally fit enough to bear the pain of her troubled mind. I want to help people and make them realise there is a way things can get better. Like I said, when you feel stronger physically, your mind, body and soul as a whole feels stronger. Fitness creates hope. I can show women that we don't only have to be skinny to be sexy.
"I'm helping create a new type of role model that magazines and media never really offer young girls growing up."
When it comes to clothing choices, she says leggings are the way to go.
"When it comes to jeans. my waist is about a 26 and my booty a 34 if not 36, my legs are constantly growing, I outgrow jeans very quick. So it's leggings and crop tops for me."
To maintain your curves she advises using the right oils when cooking your dishes (coconut, almond, olive), and not eat more than you have to.