Pretoria - Ending body shaming in the country is Clement Sibanyoni’s aim. And if that means approaching plus-size females and offering them a photo shoot, so be it.
Sibanyoni said he was tired of people body shaming others in order to feel good about themselves, and has now decided to do his bit to shed light on the matter.
The 22-year-old first-year photography student at the Tshwane University of Technology has been hard at work approaching plus-size women in the Pretoria CBD and offering to photograph them.
He said, however, approaching the women and having to explain what he wanted from them was sometimes hard to do.
“It is not easy approaching a stranger and asking to take a picture of them because they are plus-size. Some take offence, while others become very keen on doing it.
He said: “With the women I am currently working with, I have noticed that some are actually confident and have embraced their bodies for what they are, while others are a bit insecure and still need confirmation from society.
“It is with this that I have learnt that not everyone has a thick skin or can handle body shamers, hence this body-shaming business needs to stop.”
Sibanyoni said the awareness was his way of letting everyone know they were beautiful in their own way: thick or thin, tall or short, it did not matter how one looked. He started the awareness in January and vowed to continue with it until he saw changes of behaviour in society.
He also said he wanted to open a plus-size modelling agency sometime this year.
He told the Pretoria News yesterday that he chose to raise awareness through pictures, not because he studied photography, but because there was some sort of magic that came out of people when they saw themselves on a photograph.
“There is something about pictures that boosts one's confidence. Pictures always put a smile on people’s faces and make them feel beautiful. This is the reason women love their selfies,” he said, laughing.
Because many body-shaming commentaries and insults took place on social media, Sibanyoni used the same tool to fight body-shamers.
“I use the same Facebook to post pictures I have taken of the plus-size women and by plus-size I mean women from size 38 and up,” he said.
There had been so much “shade” thrown on plus-size females on all social media platforms which was shameful, he said.
“For instance, during the winter season, social media users had often referred to plus-size women as 'winter specials' meaning they were only good for a winter cuddle and nothing else,” the concerned photographer said.
Just last month, Twitter users praised Lesego Lebogane known as ThickLeeyonce after she dismissed a guy’s comment who tried to body shame her.
The 24-year-old plus-size model, body-positive activist and blogger’s picture was “picmixed” with Joelle Kayembe’s who is also a local model and was posted on Twitter by a user named Leyton Mokgerepi with a caption “girls I like vs girls that like me”.
But the body-positive activist responded within minutes with a simple “I don’t like you”, which led to social media going crazy.