Chubby Vogue Diva #35

Mbali Nokuthula Siphesihle Nompumelelo Bathokozile Angela Patricia Mlangeni.

How does one child embody all those names?

I have been blessed in life with the love, beautiful experiences, harrowing trials, and the grace to keep going.

I am a child of God. I grew up in the Catholic Church, went to an Anglican girls school, and am a believer of Christ. That has been my saving grace, through Him is how I survive.

I grew up in the United States of America, for 10 years of my life I was a New Yorker in every part of my being and I loved it. I am a Swati, a Zulu, and according to my upbringing I’ve been deemed an honorary American. And I am a big girl.

In my early years I was an average sized little child, but as I grew so did my circumference. I gravitated towards baggy clothing and became the quintessential tomboy. Now I can’t say for sure whether or not this was my means of dealing with my larger than life body or a look I genuinely loved, but it was my reality.

Family can unintentionally influence how you see yourself. “Cover your arms”, my mom would say, sewing the seed of self-consciousness that I still possess to this day. So it might be one of the influences that led me to hide behind oversized shapeless clothes.

One day in my first year at varsity a friend reprimanded me telling  me that I could not dress the same as my boyfriend. We went shopping  and looking for items that flattered as opposed to hid me. I suppose that was my turning point. Some one pictured me as more and inspired me to aspire to be more.

I started playing with my look and learning to dress for my body. It helped build my confidence in ways I never imagined. Not say it skyrocketed to new heights, but there was a change. Taking part in this photo shoot was another such experience. It allowed me to see myself in a different light and afforded me to embrace my figure even more, I saw myself as beautiful, a word in generally shy away from.


Chubby Vogue Diva #34

It’s funny how it still stings a little when one calls me FAT. I’ve heard that all my life and was nurtured and groomed to dress for my body, of which I’m grateful for.

This is my story…

My name is Phaello Matitoane but known as Phaello Rain Tshabalala on social media. – that’s another story for another day. Nonetheless, I was born in Pretoria and raised in a small awesome town called Welkom in the Free State, Thabong, next to Shopong tsa Kgale. Home.

My father is a business man and mother in sales but raised by my grandmother, the queen herself. Funny thing is she always used to tell me to wear a belt for my tummy or dress properly from a very young age, this being the stage I learned to always “breath in” in an effort to make my tummy appear smaller. So with her it didn’t bother me at all because I knew she was looking out for me…she knew, she knew how cruel people can be, how words can bring a person down.

I attended primary school at Welkom Islamic school. Like being fat wasn’t bad enough, I now was in a

Muslim school which uniform added 5kg extra with all the fabric. I made it through though and actually gained good friends whom are amazing people by the way….

And then there was high school… Boy oh Boy!!!

Now I was amongst all sorts of kids, it was difficult at first to fit in as I’ve always really been a loner, and didn’t think I’d  fit in anywhere. All I was, was that “white fat girl that stays at that big white house” haha pretty funny actually. It was difficult at first because I was laughed at a lot. If it’s not my ugly head it’s my weight or my overly pale skin. But again, life has a way of throwing things at you, I made it through all of that. I later decided to be freer, confident, that’s when I joint the school choir, netball and eventually was a Deputy Head RCL at the school. Since then I developed a sense of love for myself because happiness has no size really, it’s needed and you are responsible for it. No one else.

My advice….. It’s not easy to say you love your body especially when society describes beauty as the opposite of you. I’ve come to be at peace with my body and accepted it as it is.  Yes I still breath in and yes I wear my vest to keep everything in its place.

 If you are not HAPPY with yours then change it so that you become happy.

 Im happy. Are you?





Charmain Carrol Photography Calendar Project

 Part of the work I did last year was to work with a group of young Girls from Rammolotsi My Kasi my Story project by Global Girls Media South Africa, gathering images and portfolios of organisations under the Umbrella of Tekatekano 4 Women network. This was an amazing journey with the young community  journalist and with the different Organisations I visited.

Tekatekano Women’s Disability Network is a registered NPO started in 2010, comprising of women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities from six  Fezile Dabi towns. These towns all have Functioning organisations for people with disabilities and each local Tekatano grouping gives empetus, visability and voice to the women in the respective context.

The key objective of the network is to provide mutual support across towns, additional assistance to enable the women to find solutions to their disability-related problems and create inspirational precedents for women-led project.

These are some of the images taken:

A Big Big Thank you to Ponahalo De Beers who made it possible to do this project. To all the beautiful women and men I met in my journey, to Global Girl Media SA…. Thank you so much.

This was the outcome of all the beautiful travels, 2017 Calendar

2017 Tekatekano 4 Women Calendar (1)

Chubby Vogue Diva #32

I go by the name LeeCharmain Carrol Photography 2016-71

looking back to where I come and looking forward to where I’m heading to, my face lights up with with pride. My self love and acceptance has made me the woman I am today. I discovered my own destiny and embarked on the journey..I have been given to accomplish.

I must trully thank the #ChubbyVogueDivas for trusting me to be the first Trans woman featured in their series. This has been the most motivating experience in my life.

Being photographed at The Masoning Precinct on the 27th of April Freedom Day in South Africa was an awesome experience, being showered with compliments by everyone who was passing by from contractors to bystanders. I really felt powerful, the power to continue inspiring trans woman and woman across Africa to embrace being different. Positivity impacting lifes has always been my life interest by just being and believing in me.I realized the biggest challenge lies in our own hands to reach our destiny. my destination is to be myself and not be  apologetic. Not worry about people whispering behind my back, pointing fingers and evaluating me. This feeling is the feeling I wish every chubby trans woman can feel and maintain daily.

I am big, bold and beautiful, I reigned supreme !
Since being a confused teen about my sexuality to taking and owning the  label Trans Goddess. To me the real Trans Goddess are the trans woman out there who have gone through things a million times worse than I have in my life. Some have made it out gracefully and some are still soldiering on hate crimes, rape , family rejections , transphobia amongst other things.
I have come a long way in fighting solidarity and creating awareness in LGBTIQA issues in my community. My vision is still to see all LGBTIQA being able to celebrate their uniqueness under one place a Rainbow house where empowerment, mentorship , skills development and proper healthcare is given to all homosexuals.
I do believe wil eventually live in a friendly universe and embrace our uniqueness freely.

*The Gay Pageantry Journey.
It has been part of my life since I started to enter and win my first title as Miss Gay Daveyton in 2003. After 10 years of evaluating and venturing in finding my real calling, I hosted the Miss Gay Daveyton and Miss Valentine’s to revive the crossdressing/draging queens . I rebranded those pageants with the aim to help young drag queens and trans girls to find sense of direction , enthusiasm and tenacity. its been a heartening to witness the evolution of dynamic queens who give this platform their all and get their all in this platform. Enhancing femininity and finding development in mentorship I give them.

*The Transition Truth
I have learned not to ask for approval or seek validation from anyone else. Most family and friends want you to stay the way you are because its comfortable for them and not realise that you not comfortable. I came to this realization when I was struggling with my issues of classified as gay while Im Transgender.  Most people were not ready for my change and I have to make them realise that Im stil Lee Siba Mothibe. I have never changed. My biggest challenge now is changing my documents at the departmentof home affairs without any hassle.

*The VillageMarket 
My greatest highlight in my life after embracing my TransWomanwood is being part of the VillageMarket team (the VillageMarketqueens with Nombulelo Mawela and Nomsa Themba) Im proud of an amazing team we have completely gasped into, we internalized and owned wat we believed in .

 My message to other Divas is to be bold and beautiful beyond your expectations, keep them guessing, questioning and envious of the fabulously woman you are. my confidence gives me courage to face the world daily, I aspire to be a supreme trans woman who excell in all aspects if life and exceeds people’s expectations.

“The greatest joy comes from embracing yourself”