Although plus-size modeling has been in existence since the 1970s, the fashion industry has been known to be hesitant when it comes to using plus-sized models. There have even been cases where designers tell models that they have to lose more weight if they want to land any modeling gig. South Africa’s Lerato Moloi has been a victim of this double standard. She was once told at a New York modeling agency to lose weight before modeling.
But, as the years go by, and as more people have come out to call out this shameful attitude of fashion brands, there has been more acceptance for plus-sized models in the fashion industry. But despite this acceptance, most thick ladies still find it difficult to actually accept and love their own body. ThickLeeyonce is a plus-sized lady who has seen first hand, the segregation and demeaning way ‘her kind’ has been treated. She has therefore chosen to love herself and accept her body, irrespective of what the world has to say. She has done this by embracing the body positivity movement. Today, her body positivity advocacy has landed her awesome fashion gigs that make most slim models wish they were in her shoes.
Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About ThickLeeyonce
ThickLeeyonce whose real name is Lesego Legobane, is undeniably breaking grounds in the South African modeling, fashion, and photography industry. Although not everyone sees beauty in her body, she has been able to gather a lot of fans who absolutely love her and what she does. Below are 10 things to learn about this beautiful actress, model, photographer, and body positivity influencer.
1. She Has Constantly Advocated For People To Accept Their Body And Love Themselves For It
Her journey to accepting herself has not been as easy as it seems. ThickLeeyonce battled with a lot of rejection from people which made her develop low self-esteem and it was a struggle for her. However, when she realized that there are other women like her, she summoned courage and decided to do something that will encourage others.
To help build her self-esteem, ThickLeeyonce would take pictures of herself and ask her mother to help her print them out. She would then paste the pictures on the walls of her home and continuously admire her body. When she started uploading pictures of herself on social media wearing crop tops and skimpy dresses, people slammed her. But rather than giving up on her self-confidence, she continued to push and today, she has gone from being a local model to an international plus-size model.
Despite being plus-sized, ThickLeeyonce is never ashamed to wear a bikini that fully reveals all her curves, extra fats, and stretch marks because she believes that being sexy is a state of mind. Leading from the front and living as an example, she encourages others to accept their body type irrespective of the pressure they may be facing. She believes that stretch marks are natural and nobody should be ashamed of them.
Perusing her Instagram page, you can’t help but notice the self-love and body positivity vibes she gives off. This serves as a lot of encouragement to other ladies like her who may be feeling bad about their body size.
2. ThickLeeyonce Has Modeled For Calvin Klein
From being the one behind the camera, ThickLeeyonce has moved to be the one in front of it. She is so confident in her body that magazine producers and brands can’t help but notice the beauty, elegance, and confidence that she has. She is currently one of the most popular plus-sized models in South Africa.
In 2018, ThickLeeyonce was one of the celebrities who was featured in Marie Claire SA’s ‘Naked’ issue of August that year. She has gone ahead to model for brands like Adidas and Glamour magazine. Perhaps the most high-profile of all is her deal with global fashion brand, Calvin Klein. She became the first South African plus-size model to work with the brand on its campaign for Calvin Klein Women eau de toilette.
To say it was a dream come true would be a gross understatement as the 29-year-old influencer was over the moon with excitement. ThickLeeyonce bagged the deal in June 2019 and in February 2020, she took to Twitter to announce that her contract had been renewed.
3. Social Media Called ThickLeeyonce A Hypocrite After Her Shoot With Calvin Klein
After her shoot with Calvin Klein, ThickLeeyonce uploaded a naked picture of herself. And since the theme of that Calvin Klein magazine issue was ‘Dear Body’, she captioned the photo with a short letter written to herself, narrating how others may not see the beauty in her body but she does, and how she is happy that she has accepted her body.
Her caption was indeed beautiful and really touching, but social media users decided to read in-between the lines and gave their own meaning to the caption. Most of them slammed her, saying she is only being a hypocrite and that in an actual sense, she is trying to lose weight.
Being the self-confident lady she portrays herself as ThickLeeyonce responded to their allegations, saying that people are surprised that a plus-size lady like her would love her body and that they just want her to hate herself. People still body shame her online, but she does not allow all of that to get to her.
She still flaunts her big body and curves on social media without caring what anyone has got to say about it. In 2017, a Twitter user tried to body shame her with his post. He tweeted “Girls that I like VS Girls that like me,” using a slim model’s picture to represent the former and Thickleeyonce’s picture to represent the latter. Even though she responded that she does not like him, his effort attracted the likes of Nicky Minaj and Ariana Grande, who supported her by liking her post.
Twitter users also slam ThickLeeyonce for eating unhealthy food, which they believe accounts for her body size. They even go as far as advising her to hit the gym. She finds their comments really offensive and claims that the fact that she is plus-sized does not mean she is unhealthy.
4. She Caused Controversy With Her Statement On Body Positivity
Being someone who is big on body positivity and the movement upholding the values of loving oneself regardless of body type and size, it came as a surprise when she controversially took sides when airing her opinion on body positivity. The plus-size model commented on a post by British GLAMOUR (@GlamourMagUK) on August 31, 2020, and was dragged for her comment.
The UK-based magazine had put out a tweet that read: “A new trend is sweeping Instagram: ‘reality vs reality,’ which aims to demonstrate that flexed, posed or relaxed, our bodies are still our bodies, and they’re perfect in any form.” In response, ThickLeeyonce commented saying “not for slim bodies already accepted by society. Stop this”.
That comment unleashed the ire of so many towards her as they felt she was being hugely biased in her body positivity agenda. Some even figured she was barely expressing a fit of deep-seated jealousy she had for girls with slimmer bodies. Many argued that she cannot be an advocate of body positivity and exclude a particular body size, insisting that slim girls are equally allowed to participate in the body positivity movement.
In her defense, ThickLeeyonce responded that she was not envious of slim girls neither is she body shamming them. She insisted that she was only stating that the movement has been hijacked by those who the society already accepts, pushing anyway those who need the movement even more – the plus-sized people.
5. ThickLeeyonce Is Originally From Potchefstroom
ThickLeeyonce hails from Potchefstroom and although there is currently very little information available about her childhood, we know that she was born on the 18th of March in 1993 and is currently 29 years old. She has two beautiful younger sisters who she is so proud of, as she often uploads pictures of them on social media to express the joy she feels about having amazing sisters like them.
One of her sisters, who goes by the name Kamogelo Legobane is also interested in music, photography, and fashion and seems to be following in her sister’s footsteps. She is currently the cotton kids ambassador. Her other sister, Keabetswe Legobane, is also interested in music, fashion, and art.
ThickLeeyonce’s mother is a very important figure in her life right now and she refers to her as the best mom ever. Her mother still looks quite young and is also trendy.
6. ThickLeeyonce Coined Her Name From Beyoncé
You may have noticed the similarities between ThickLeeyonce and Beyoncé, that’s because ThickLeeyonce actually derived her name from the American sensational songstress, Beyoncé. While she was in high school, she was so obsessed with the superstar singer that her friends decided to mix her real name Lesego Legobane with Beyoncé to form ‘Leeyouncè and she continued with it. The ‘Thick’ part of her name has to do with identifying with her body size.
7. She Is Currently One Of The Top Photographers In The South African Entertainment Industry
Lesego Legobane has worked with some of South Africa’s top celebrities including Amanda Du Pont, Pearl Modiadie, Boity Thulo, among others. And her skill at delivering a wonderful and classy finished work has made her one of the most sought-after photographers by South African celebrities.
The results you see today in her work comes from all the efforts she puts into learning photography since she was in her 10th grade. Her hard work started paying off quite early, at the age of 18, she was already working for Juicy Africa as their head photographer. It was her gig at Juicy Africa that connected her to a lot of celebrities who kept recommending her to their friends after working with her and enjoying satisfaction from her services.
8. ThickLeeyonce Gets Brand Endorsement Deals From Big Brands And She Is Stylish
All the body-shaming on social media does not stop ThickLeeyonce from closing major endorsement deals with big brands like Always Ultra and Cotton Africa. Despite being plus-sized, Thickleeyonce knows the kind of outfits that go well with her body type. She is always looking glamorous and beautiful at all times and does not allow her body to stop her from slaying in any outfit she steps out in.
9. She Has A YouTube Channel And Is Also An Entrepreneur
ThickLeeyonce has a YouTube channel that is called ThickLeeyonce Legobane. She currently has several thousands of subscribers. On the channel, she uploads videos about her personal life and fashion tips for plus-sized models like herself. She also features her mother and friends in different videos.
In 2016, ThickLeeyonce co-founded an online fashion store called LeeBex with Rebecca Garande and in 2019, they were able to set up their first offline branch. In most of her Instagram uploads, she also gives credit to her fashion store for her outfit. LeeBex is a plus-sized fashion store where people with a body size of 34 to 58 and above can purchase really classy outfits that suit their bodies.
10. She Doesn’t Joke With Her Vacations
ThickLeeyonce is someone who truly knows how to give herself a good treat. Once in a while, when she feels the need to, she takes herself on a cozy vacation to places like Dubai, Mozambique, and even Cape Town. Whenever she goes on a trip, she does not fail to upload pictures and videos of herself and the environment for her fans to see, and from those videos, you can easily tell that she is having a good time.
What We Know About The Body Positivity Movement
Body positivity symbolizes a notion that promotes the idea of loving and appreciating one’s body, irrespective of what other people think or say about it. The goals of the body positivity movement include helping people accept their own body sizes, and challenging how society views the body. It also seeks to disabuse the stereotypes cultures and popular opinion has created regarding which body type is to be preferred as against the other.
It could also mean loving and adoring oneself, accepting whatever body type or size one has, being confident about one’s body regardless of any flaws. Having a positive image helps fight suicidal thoughts occasioned by depression. It could also assist in dealing with low self-esteem and eating disorders by adopting body neutrality and focusing on adequate body care.
Asides from ThickLeeyonce, other known body positivity advocates in south Africa include Anele Mdoda, Kgothi “Iman” Dithebe, Hulisani Ravele, Loot Love, among others.