In a world obsessed with surgical changes, body conformity and unreal beauty standards, plus-size style bloggers have often been overlooked. Not anymore. In 2017 curvy style bloggers are setting trends and showing that beauty is big, bold and bootylicious! This the first in a series of profiles for The September Issue where we meet some of the women who are being themselves unapologetically both online and off. These women are putting their mark on social media with their confidence, glamour and ease.
Part one of our four part curvy style icons interview series features LaLa Neriah Tshabalala. Lala uses her blog and Instagram page to inspire, and she exudes beauty through her personal style. She conveys body positivity, “Too Glam to Give a Damn,” and overall fierceness! We reached out to Lala for a quick chat about all aspects of style in the plus-size/curvy women community. Read below to see what she had to say!
Erica Garnes for OkayAfrica: What inspired you to start your blog?
LaLa Neriah Tshabalala: I wanted to document my journey and all the things I was discovering about the plus size industry, body positivity and share it with whoever was interested. I was also inspired by other bloggers such as Gabifresh, Nadia Abolhousn and Girl With Curves (Tanesha Awasthi) who made it look so glamorous and freeing.
What does style mean to you?
Style means a reflection of YOU. I don’t care if something is trending in the fashion world or if it’s popular in the circles I move in, if it doesn’t reflect my taste then I don’t bother. Mind you, my taste is constantly changing as I discover more fashion but it’s still all relative to what I feel good in and what catches my eye.
How would you define your style? What is your go-to look?
I love pieces that flatter and accentuate my curves. My go to style items are below the knee pencil dresses and skirts. I feel most sexy when I’m wearing something that doesn’t reveal too much skin but reveals the shape of my body.
How do you feel about mainstream media only portraying one type of plus size women like Ashley Graham, for example? Why do you think it’s important for media to represent a diverse array of plus size, curvy women?
It’s very unfortunate. There are so many beautiful and talented women out there who are being denied opportunities, purely based off their body type. Listen, I’m an African woman. More specifically, I’m Swazi (from Swaziland). We tend to have big, round butts which comes with all that cellulite, fuller arms and chunky legs (which I actually inherited from my family hahahahha). So as beautiful of a woman such as Ashley Graham is, she still doesn’t reflect all the different curvy bodies out there as no single person does. This is why it’s so important for there to be more diversity. It would be amazing if the media acknowledged more body types and celebrated them. I truly believe this is a step in the right direction when it comes to a more positive body image for more.
What do you think is the most common misconception about plus size/curvy women in the fashion world?
The biggest misconception about plus size women in the fashion world is that we are too afraid to explore fashion. We aren’t afraid, we just don’t want to look whack, no one does. If designers took more of a chance on us, understood our bodies and proportions better and created stylish pieces specifically tailored for us and not just items made in bigger sizes, more plus size women would explore fashion.
How much of an impact does your culture have on your style?
My culture specifically? Some. I have to admit I’m obsessing over African fashion as a whole now more than I ever have and not just print but traditional attire. There is nothing more beautiful than someone wearing their traditional wear. My friends know me, when they travel back home to their countries they are kind enough to come back with authentic materials for me. I have a shelf full of Ankara and Kente. This summer I’m definitely going to wear more African attire and try and put a more “Lala feel” to it.
What do you do outside of blogging?
Outside my blogging I’m doing one of two things, working on my upcoming projects or spending as much time with my family as I can. I’m such a family girl. I have such amazing, strong people around me who are constantly teaching me, uplifting me and helping me grow.
Are you working on any new projects?
I’m currently working on a vlog/online show with my bestie Josie. My context has always been “a plus size girl living in this world” but now I want my followers to get to know another side of me. Josie and I have such a strong dynamic. We’re both very opinionated and independent in our thinking but we also have so much love and respect for one another and culture embedded in us. This vlog will be a reflection of that. A reflection of the profound beauty of women loving and uplifting each other and actively working on their friendship dynamic while they experience life. I’m also working on a few events, one of them being centered around body positivity.