MASERU – Local plus-size model, 21-year-old Malisema Motelle has Thickleeyonce and Ashley Graham (both plus-size models as well) to thank for motivating her to join the industry she thought she could not belong to.
The model indicates that growing up, she had always aspired to be a model but was struggling to love her huge body as modelling has always been deemed an industry for people with slim bodies.
It was only after watching Thickleeyonce and Graham’s interviews on television in 2017 that the 21-year-old decided to step up and join the industry that has since been her dream come true.
The interviews inspired her and actually made her realise that she needs to love herself more first even though that was a hard nut to crack.
A plus-size model is described as an individual of average to larger stature (mostly from size 36/38 and upwards). Motelle indicates that with the industry, the real deal is basically just about how confident one is with their curves.
The plus-size model, who is also a poet, strongly believes that she is just an ordinary girl trying to be extraordinary.
She is also currently working on a project, Moshoeshoe Youth Film Festival, and is in charge of communications and stakeholder relations.
Motelle is of course also working as a plus size model to inspire students they visit regarding the project she and other partners have embarked on.
“What I really want is for people to appreciate their backgrounds and bodies and should not let their backgrounds stop them from achieving their goals,” Motelle states.
She is a model signed under Tgee Modelling Agency, an agency that is a platform which recruits models of both sexes to become professionals by boosting their self-esteem, confidence and morals to make modelling a defined career.
The agency also provides models for commercial and promotional advertising to all kinds of businesses.
Motelle emphasises that she does not like the fact that people still strongly hold the belief that modelling is reserved for the tall and slim only. She therefore shows that she usually says they are changing the rules.
“If when you walk into a shop there are clothes for plump women, then why can’t we have plus-size models? We need to be appreciated just the way we are; modelling should not only be about slim women,” she asserts.
Motelle, however, further says she is impressed that Basotho have actually come to terms with plus-size modelling and actually love the idea.
The feedback they are getting is really amazing, even though there may be setbacks, she says.
“They are really trying all ways possible to be supportive in a way I had not imagined.”
The diva says she encounters a number of challenges as far as this industry she passionately loves is concerned, the biggest of which is body shaming.
She shows that sometimes she meets with people who tell her to at least lose weight to look “better”.
“I was also once somewhere where fashion students were only allowed to and only taught to sew clothes for size 34 only. That really cut deep and I realised it is almost everywhere and saw that there is still a long way to go. They need to learn about different bod types; we are not all size 34.
“Even our designers find it a challenge to make clothes for plus-size models and that simply indicates that they were never initially taught about us,” the model says.
She considers the lives of women and girls she has touched as her greatest achievement. Teaching them to love and embrace every inch of their bodies is all the satisfaction she needs and says she wants to be remembered as that woman who was there to help change other women’s lives.
Her other achievement is the fact that she will be the “only” plus-size model at the upcoming Lesotho Fashion Week.
She also managed to model outside Lesotho at Johannesburg with models from DR Congo, Mozambique, Botswana and others.