News Brief

Curvy Style Icon: Swazi Style Blogger LaLa Neriah Tshabalala is Doing Fashion On Her Own Terms

For our first curvy style icon installment, we speak to LaLa Neriah Tshabalala about being "To Damn Glam to Give a Damn."

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!

Tshabalala 🌺

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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.

Thank you @glamafricamag 👑🔑🙏

A post shared by Lala Neriah Tshabalala (@misscurvylala) on

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.

Shadows, reflections and highlights but she's not discarding this pic.. 🙍😚 📷 : @international.shots

A post shared by Lala Neriah Tshabalala (@misscurvylala) on

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.

💄

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News Brief

Top 11 African Female Models To Watch

Here are 11 African female models that need to be on your radar as they make waves in the fashion industry.

Fashion is inextricably linked to its models, and models of color consistently serve as muses for top designers.

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News Brief

Curvy Style Icon: This Ghanaian Blogger Is Flaunting Her 'Foreign Curves' and Encouraging Other Women to Do the Same

For the last installment of our curvy icon series, we speak to Ghanaian blogger and entrepreneur, Anita Matey about her latest project.

To end our Curvy Icon interview series, meet Ghanaian beauty Anita Matey. Matey, who was born in Ghana but raised in New York, uses her blog, Foreign Curves, to stand for the true beauty in all women, accepting the love a women has for oneself, and most importantly, baby girl is fierce in her style! “Foreign Curves is my life, I realized that once you start loving yourself—every aspect, every roll, every stretch mark, every imperfection—you literally start living," Matey says.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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Screenshot from the upcoming film Warriors of a Beautiful Game

In Conversation: Pelé's Daughter is Making a Documentary About Women's Soccer Around the World

In this exclusive interview, Kely Nascimento-DeLuca shares the story behind filming Warriors of a Beautiful Game in Tanzania, Brazil and other countries.

It may surprise you to know that women's soccer was illegal in Brazil until 1981. And in the UK until 1971. And in Germany until 1970. You may have read that Sudan made its first-ever women's league earlier this year. Whatever the case, women and soccer have always had a rocky relationship.

It wasn't what women wanted. It certainly wasn't what they needed. However, society had its own ideas and placed obstacle after obstacle in front of women to keep ladies from playing the game. Just this year the US national team has shown the world that women can be international champions in the sport and not get paid fairly compared to their male counterparts who lose.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca is looking to change that. As the daughter of international soccer legend Pelé, she is no stranger to the game. Growing up surrounded by the sport, she was actually unaware of the experiences women around the world were having with it. It was only recently that she discovered the hardships around women in soccer and how much it mirrored women's rights more generally.

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