Culture

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 🌺

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

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 👑🔑🙏

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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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Style
Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Wekafore Releases Fela Kuti Inspired Collab With Daily Paper

The one-of-a-kind 'The Spirit Don't Die' capsule collection celebrates African heritage and a hope for a brighter future.

Amsterdam-based African streetwear brand Daily Paper has joined Nigerian fashion brand Wekafore in creating a unique capsule collection of note. The 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection is inspired by fashion and Nigerian activism icon Fela Kuti, but celebrates the bountiful beauty, potential, and heritage of Africans.

Nigerian designer Wekaforé Maniu Jibril, owner, and designer of the Wekafore brand has been hot since his 2013 debut. The brand has gone on to become a great success within the realm of West African fashion. Wekaforé represents a newer, more fearless generation of African designers and their latest collaborative collection tells the tale.

Daily Paper x Wekaforé 'The Spirit Don't Die' collectionImage courtesy of Daily Paper


The two popular brands share a rich history and intention to further African fashion's reputation in the world, as well as as a shared desire for raw necessity, organic growth, and authentic community engagement, development and, support. The fashion brands are making it known that street and casual wear are more than we once thought - fashion can be inclusive and fun. The stars truly aligned to bring us this partnership guided by similar core values and the hunger to celebrate Africa and her diasporas through fashion.

The Fela Kuti-inspired collection is filled with distinctive and bold pieces, honoring Africa's past while paving the way towards the future. Wekafore is known for their clear integration of West Africa's 1970's cultural golden age, and this limited collection speaks to those themes, making it a no-brainer to dedicate the line to the legendary King of Afrobeat, whose style never disappointed. It's clear to see how Kuti's influence inspired the exciting and vibrant creative renaissance seen in the collection. On using Kuti as his muse, Wekaforé says, "Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness."


Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Daily Paper x Wekafore 'The Spirit Don't Die' Collection

Check out more of Daily Paper x Wekafore's collection 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection here.

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