Popular photographer and plus-size model Lesego “Thickleeyonce” Legobane has peeled herself off the floor after being hit twice this week by toxic social media trolls ridiculing women’s curves.
Thickleeyonce, a strict advocate for body positivity, was one of several models who took to the runway for Woolworths at SA Fashion Week this week, drawing applause from the audience.
However, a video of her walking on the runway was ridiculed on Twitter, with users body-shaming her for her weight and complaining that she was walking like someone on their way to a spaza shop.
The hate she received this week was so painful and upset her so much that she cried until she vomited.
“I am not a robot. I have feelings and I am not ever going to suppress my feelings because I am always expected to be strong and just take the hate. There are days that it hurts and the last two days have been those days.”
But she would not allow the abuse to impact her life or future plans.
“I have closed that chapter. I have cried and moved on from it. I am going to continue to live my life the way it makes me happy without caring about other people’s opinions. I have been living like this my whole life and I am not going to stop because of a number of people.”
While Thickleeyonce has been applauded for standing up for herself, against the hate, she said she was tired of constantly getting hate and had decided not to respond to the hate anymore.
“Sometimes people catch you on a day where you are dealing with whatever you’re dealing with and it all comes tumbling down and you have to deal with everything.
“But I cannot let people get to me to the point where I can’t live my life or have to go for therapy. People don’t have that much power over me and I will never let them have that power over me,” she added.
But while Thickleeyonce may have have been down, she’s not out. Despite the backlash to her SA Fashion Week debut, she is determined she won’t shy away from the ramp in future.
“I’ll definitely return to the runway to model again. Without even thinking twice about it,” she said.
Woolworths South Africa said they were mortified by the backlash and said they would fight against those intent on destroying others through body-shaming.
“It is unacceptable in this day and age that someone would be bullied because of how they look or how they carry themselves. We are mortified by this. We are trying to embrace all women, and people are bringing others down.
“We embrace body positivity and Thickleeyonce embodies that for us. We will continue to use her as our ambassador and strongly condemn any bullying,” said Woolworths South Africa head of communications Kirsten Hewett.
SA Fashion Week CEO Lucilla Booyzen also condemned the hatred, saying the organisation was appalled by the “scourge of pulling people down on social media”.
“It is disgraceful that people would criticise our models for their walk or the way they look. We condemn any kind of bullying directed at any of the models at SA Fashion Week. SA Fashion Week is completely inclusive and we represent all women, regardless of their body shapes.”
Earlier this week, Thickleeyonce made headlines when she came out swinging in defence of Gigi Lamayne after the rapper was mocked for stretch marks on her thighs and buttocks.
Gigi shared a picture of herself in a bright orange costume that showed off her legs and proudly embraced the way her body was made.
“Superwoman didn’t just wear a cape. She was black with stretch marks, an imperfect body and skin as melanin as that of the soil,” she wrote.
The plus-size model made it clear she was not about to entertain the slander against Gigi on her Twitter timeline.
She also went on to emphasize that stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of, and are normal.
Last month, Thickleeyonce made international headlines after she slammed a social media user who body-shamed her by posting a picture of famous Elle model Joelle Kayembe in a bikini next to one of Thickleeyonce, also in a bikini, with a nasty caption.
Responding to the user’s captions: “girls that I like vs girls that like me”, Thickleeyonce wrote: “I don’t like you”.
Her response was liked by US music stars Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande and saw her featured in Teen Vogue USA and other international publications.