by Siba Nkumbi
Chubby Vogue Divas, using confidence as their weapon of mass destruction!
59 Years later after the march of women to the union buildings, chubby vogue divas were marching in style and class to eliminate discrimination against plus sized women. What better venue than the Constitution Hill to make a statement on women’s month?
The answer is a resounding jaw dropping wow to the courage and confidence of Charmain Carrol and her Divas.
We seldom witness full- figured women proudly stating that ‘I’m big boned and I love it, get over it’. To be exact the date is the 6th of August 2015 and today myself and many observers we witnessed the roles change!
Full-figured women were doing it for themselves with a ‘We have arrived attitude’.
The timing is just perfect as it is women’s month and the women are doing things for themselves. Gone are the days of a woman having to wait for someone to make her feel good in her own skin by throwing a compliment every now and then. Chubby vogue Divas are a bunch of women that love themselves unconditionally and they know they are beautiful, strong and smart. The best part is that no one can do anything about it. The time is now to remove the stigma around full- figured women.
As we approached the venue of the chubby vogue divas exhibition by Charmain Carrol, we were welcomed by statues made out of scrap metal, it immediately felt like home as most of us are familiar with zinc from ekasi. The mood was set and the weather was jovial. Moving into the venue, outside there were tables neatly organised in an L-shaped position covered with white cloths, hanging over the white cloths were orange cloths nicely folded in a triangular shape. To finish the beautiful decoration at the table there were refreshments that were nicely put in order. If ever there was anything close to perfection, this is it.
Fellow artists and observers were already in a gay mood before entering the mass hall which was the venue for the exhibition. It is where the Chubby Divas were owning the space with their photographs hanging on the walls of the mass hall.
As the crowd entered the space, it seemed like they were seeing something for the first time. Even my own jaw dropped l laid my eyes on the amazing work of Queen Chubby Diva herself. It wasn’t with sexy black shoes that revealed her nicely polished toes in black nail polish/cutex. Let me paint this picture, eyebrows were at their perfect state and she finished it off with a red lipstick plus matching jewelry. If it didn’t click before, it certainly sunk in after the crowd saw the statement she was making just by her dress code. Any chubby diva that felt trapped in her own skin left the venue a changed person. Charmain personifies the true meaning of loving yourself for who you are as a woman. Chubby vogue Divas are women that are full-figured and are proud of who they are. Some of them growing up they would never
amount to anything in life because they are fat. Well, not these ladies. They are a bunch of successful and qualified Divas.
“Why should skinny girls be the ones leading all major magazines, beauty pageants and fashion runways or be the first ones to be considered for shoots?”
This interesting question that is still mind boggling up to this day was posed by the youngest member of the chubby divas. A 19 year old from Dobsonville, Soweto.
To mention a few of these Divas, we have the likes of Faith Nkateko Nobela who is a designer for extra sized women. Nozibele Duze, better known as Riri all the way from the Eastern Cape and Gugu Zulu who is a police woman and a mother…
The spectators were blown away by this exhibition including myself. It was an intense experience, Charmain was so excited she couldn’t hold back tears. Nothing makes an artist happier than seeing their work not only being shown but making a difference too. She’s a role model to the little chubby girls that are hating themselves because of their weight. Now, that will all change as they have something they relate to and will come to realize that there is nothing wrong with being full- figured all you have to do is embrace yourself as you are, be still and get comfortable under your own skin. Carrol’s work was flawless, she even received offers for her well shot photographs before the show even ended. Her work speaks for itself and the models looked stunning.
The pictures that caught my attention were pictures of Nomsa Buthelezi, not only did she pose comfortably in her own skin, she was wearing a nice traditional dress of the Swati clan. She was also black and proud. Then Nombulelo Khumalo in her nice blue outfit posed to kill, she is not only a chubby diva but an actress to be reckoned with.
“I knew Charmain through Muholi and we got to know each other from there on, she wanted to do something different and powerful and that’s how chubby vogue started. It was basically an empowerment session to women who are not ideally perfect women in the society. It’s something that’s different and has never been done before “ – Lesiba Mothibe.
“My mom is an activist and a loving person, because when I was growing up we didn’t share our home just the two of us. She always welcomed her friends that were kicked out of home because of their sexuality. So she’s not only a mother to me but to a lot of people and that’s why people adore her. That’s my mom.” – Lynn Carrol, daughter of Charmain Carrol.
“I dressed up today because of what my photography is all about, I wanted to be a Diva today. I’m always in my jeans and All Stars (sneakers) you know. When people look at big women they think we don’t have style and not trendy enough to look beautiful.” -Charmain Carrol
On her right foot she has a tattoo of her daughter’s name, Carrol says that it’s an infinity sign because her daughter stands by her and it is love forever. She also states that, If it wasn’t for the support of her daughter Lynn, chubby vogue divas wouldn’t have been possible because she understood when her mother had to work and most of the time she had to stay alone at times while she was out busy photographing.
“To the big girls out there that feel trapped in their bodies, set yourselves free, get out and love yourself and be a Diva. When people call me is’dudla (fatty) it doesn’t offend me. I know I have flabby arms a big booty and big bones so I don’t need anyone to state the obvious. I am comfortable in my own skin.” – Charmain Carrol
Terra Dick, a photographer shared her views on how impressed she was of Carrol’s work and urges people to stop calling them Iscabaraba (fatty). A word of encouragement came when she stated that, the big women should love themselves more until it’s no longer strange to the ignorant.
A little history on chubby vogue Divas and the exhibition…
Carrol started Chubby Divas because she wanted to be a model but because of her weight and her size she couldn’t be one. She then saw an opportunity to embrace big women as they are and make their dreams come true by strictly photographing big women. Also to eliminate the stigma within the society that big women were created to make babies and nothing more. She saw it as a chance to let other plus size women to tell their stories through visuals. Carrol stated that being big doesn’t mean that one is prone to be sick.
“I don’t have hypertension or diabetes, I exercise and walk a lot, before you judge me walk in my shoes first.”
Chubby Vogue Divas started because big women found it difficult to relate to the women on the magazine covers. She started Chubby divas in 2014 May.
She then ended her speech with a bang by taking the crowd for a grand tour. The show came to an end at an extremely good note. Prospecting basics donated 3tickets for life coaching sessions to three lucky people. Each session will be 45 minutes for free. Anele a Life coach from prospecting basics donated the tickets.
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