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?






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”

Chubby Vogue Diva #31


Anna Sanfilippo

When I made the decision to do this photo shoot, I really expected it to be a walk in the park.  How difficult could it be?  I was however feeling very nervous, a bit excited at the thought of doing this.  In many ways I was convinced that I was comfortable with my size and my age, that I had learnt to accept my rolls, my many imperfections and my fine lines.

Strangely it turns out I was feeling intimidated, vulnerable and scared at the thought of confronting my body in such a candid way…I could no longer hide behind layers of clothing or props.  Instead I would have to look at the camera head on and show the world who I really was.  I suddenly realised that the labels attached over the years have indeed left me slightly battered and a little bruised.  Labels like “morbidly obese”, “fatty boom boom” and “my baby elephant” come to mind.  Words often said gently and lovingly, and sometimes out of ignorance.  I have often felt judged by others about my weight, feeling I was not good enough, pretty enough, sexy enough; never enough.

I had over time taken on society’s expectations of the perfect body; lithe, thin, young, photo shopped and wrinkle free.  Today, 50 years later, I needed to take a hard look at my body and what I stand for.  I am slowly learning to embrace who I am.   I can accept that my body does not define who I am (well most of the time)!  I am a strong, independent, sexy, caring and adventurous woman.  I am learning to like who I am and I like being me.  I have at times travelled alone, at times I have been broken down and at times I have stared despair in the face.  I have hated my body and cried at my imperfections.  I am not alone.  Mine is not a unique story.  Ultimately, I know that I am surrounded by women who have walked the same road.  I take courage from them and can only hope to inspire someone to take courage from me.  Together we will build a world of strong, capable, wonderful, diverse woman.

For now, I am focussed on building a stronger, healthier body; one that will support me in years to come; a body that will serve me for the next 50 years while I love and nurture it.  My hair is greying and I love my platinum look.  My belly is soft and comforting like an old friend, proof that I have given life.  My breasts sag (a little); a reminder that I have nurtured and cared for my child.  The lines around my eyes are starting to show in a canvas that proudly declares that I have laughed, pouted, sulked and cried.  My double chin greets me every time I laugh out loud and long and yet, I would not want to change a thing. 

It is sad really that when you are young you are so busy chasing that ideal image that society imposes, that you make yourself miserable in the process.  Life is cruel in that when you eventually come to the realisation that YOU are all you have, it is then that you realise and regret that you wasted so much time wanting and wishing to be slimmer, sexier, older, funnier, friendlier…

Love yourself unconditionally and the universe will love you back.  Take courage and love yourself as you are, for you are enough. 




Chubby Vogue Diva #30

Lebitso laka ke Matšhweng Seko mmago Selaelo le Mahlako (Sel-Mah)

The journey of comfort with my body has been a long and interesting one for me. I have always been classified as “chubby” since I was young. Even after losing 30KG and moved from a 42 to a 32, I still viewed myself as bigger than the average girl and found fault in my physique.

After being blessed with two beautiful souls and two major losses in my life, I came to realize that life is too short to be focused on things that do not make you happy and being negative. I came to the conclusion that, it is no-one’s responsibility to love this “shebang” of a woman or anyone’s responsibility to be comfortable or happy with this body, but ME… You only get one body after all and you need to take care of it. So I choose love and happiness not only for me and for my two girls.

Children do not do what you say but do what you do. For my girls or madonga a JAM (as I love calling them) to love themselves, be confident and proud I had to be that example for them.

Although I have been a gym member for years, and always participated in races and tried to be active it was after my light bulb moment that my heart followed me to the gym and all my fitness activities and renewed my love for it. Being at the gym and running has been my Nirvana: where I am at peace and EXTREMELY happy.

Finally accepting myself as I am and fully loving Matšhweng: has made me more adventurous and made me happier, content with myself, my life and enabled me to be the person I am truly meant to be. Every day for me is a new adventure and I strive to be the best person I could be and to live my purpose in life and the best Mother I could be to Sel-Mah (Madonga a JAM)


Chubby Vogue Diva #29


My name is Jennifer Zamanqolo Willard and I am 19 years old.

I am my late mother’s last born and my father’s fourth child.  Growing up was amazing!!! I had a father who adored me and did EVERYTHING for me, two sisters who took care of me and my two over protective brothers(one of which is actually my cousin), who did everything they could to see me smile. We grew up as nomads, always on the move and living with relatives because our dad was a business man and travelling a lot came with the job.. I’ve always been bigger then kids my age and at first it never seemed to bother me. it didn’t bring me down in any kind of way. i saw myself as any other ordinary kid.  I actually started having an image crisis when family members made me feel obese. Sometimes the ones we love are the ones who make us feel bad about ourselves the most. I then started getting picked on and ridiculed about my weight by children at school and strangers would call me names. My family tried helping me loose weight by having me try numerous diets and workouts, but nothing seemed to work, because honestly, I was never committed..

I started liking how I looked like later on in high school… I started seeing myself as pretty, and slowly, I fell in-love with the person staring back at me in the mirror. The road to self-love is not an easy one. I’m still learning to love myself as I am.

I’m loving every single moment of it! I wouldn’t have been able to see myself as this beautiful specimen that I am if it hadn’t been for my siblings, parents and AMAZING friends that I have, who remind me daily that I’m Everything good.

When Charmain (I call her mamma lynne) first approached me about doingChubby Vogue Divas, I was very hesitant, but she never took no for an answer. she was very persistent because she saw something in me I couldn’t even see. After months of struggling with our schedules, we finally did the shoot and I loved every moment of it!!

I felt beautiful and in control!!

I hadn’t had so much fun in a while.

 If i could say anything to any other fat/chubby girl out there is this: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!! don’t change because people tell you to. change because you want to. Love yourself before expecting others to, and most importantly, you are a Flower. the world will never see your true beauty until you let yourself blossom!!


Chubby Vogue Diva #28

IMG_1738Xoliswa Zinzile “Muntomuhle”  Mahlangu

Thank God for PLUS MODEL MAG and many beautiful body positive bloggers and designers  like Passion Jones, Jezra, Nadia Boohson, Naturally fashionable, Mihlali Gqada  and Ouma Tema just to mention a few. This once reserved tomboyish nerd is slowly breaking out of her shell, and slowly becoming the stylish diva that was always  screaming to be let out.

I am 27 year old closet fashion blogger (lol). I am a skills development manager by profession. I am currently working on attaining my Masters in Software Engineering, I have a keen interest in technology and multimedia design. Part of my work is developing soft-skills in my teenage students. This has surprisingly helped me streamline my life so much, you can’t teach someone to be confident if you are not confident.

Growing up as the big kid was not an easy task. Looking back at childhood pictures, you are that one gigantic kid, the tall and big one who can’t have all the prim and proper dresses that all the cute tiny girls had. It wasn’t all bad though, as people would think you are older and immediately put you in leadership positions ,that grew an awesome leader in me.

Primary school was a breeze and I could do all that I put my mind to .I participated in all activities despite my size, even when I could hear the whispers when I would enter beauty pageants, but I was just too young to care. My confidence took a nose dive when I went to a bigger high school with girls that made me feel I wasn’t pretty enough. Luckily for me I had my academics and my religion kept me on the straight and narrow and looks took a backseat for a while.

By the time I came to varsity things got really interesting: looks mattered but I didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. When I had been working for a while my mini-obsession with weight loss started I tried everything I could afford to try and lose weight but I just could never stick it out. My weight greatly influenced my self-worth and the opportunities that I perused.

A breaking point came when I realized that I am much more than my weight or waist size. My sister and my husband are a great influence on me, they remind just how awesome I am. I am  intelligent, I am beautiful ,  I am creative , I am blessed , I am influential , I am well spoken . I am amazing and it has nothing to do with what size I wear. Over the past months I have started embracing my boss-lady look and it has also made me feel better about myself. When you dress well, you feel good  and when you feel good you do amazing stuff.

The photo-shoot was an amazing experience, my sister and my friend joined in.  It gave us an opportunity to embrace our collective beauty. Getting ready for the shoot: from  the theme selection, picking out and getting our make-up done got us to play around with our love for fashion and beauty. The time we spent before the shoot got us to bond on a level we had never experienced before. Working with such a talented photographer made us all comfortable and we got to explore our beauty.

It was a blast. 

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Images taken in Fleurhof Johannesburg

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Chubby Vogue Diva #27

©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (43 of 44)My name is Xolile Pinky Mthembu, 26 year of age and I’m the eldest of four kids at home. I grew up in a very big and popular township in Durban called Umlazi., I’m a bubbly, spontaneous , sophisticated and career driven individual.. Those who know me understand that I don’t stop at anything until I get what I want.

As a black woman, what inspires me the most is independence and having a voice as a woman

Being a Chubby Vogue Diva has surfaced a more confident and vibrant me…It’s truly proved that I am a go getter. And don’t have to be a size 32 in order to feel comfortable and sexy in my own body.

Truly speaking I wasn’t such a big bodied girl growing up, but I guess all the weight came with my career choice and always eating on the go. It took me a while to come to terms with being a plus sized woman, since as a personal preference I don’t like having much material on me, because I believe I was blessed with a beautiful, and flawless skin that I enjoy flaunting from time to time. But due to the size of my body as well as cultural believes and society as a whole, it forces you to cover up.

As a diva, I believe there are many women out there who would relate to my story, and my aim is to reach out them and give them motive and inspiration to take great pride in their big bodies, and always understand that the beauty in a big black woman, is more than what meets the eye, but its within..

I  really felt great after my photo shoot, it’s something that I never thought I was actually capable of, but after one too many snaps , I realised that I’ve got a special connection with the camera. It’s something I would enjoy doing  more often as a hobby, who knows, or maybe end up pursuing a career out of it.

©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (21 of 44) ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (22 of 44) ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (19 of 44)

©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (5 of 44)  ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (4 of 44)  ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (10 of 44)

©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (13 of 44)  ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (11 of 44)

©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (38 of 44)  ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (44 of 44)  ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (40 of 44)

©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (27 of 44)   ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (28 of 44)   ©Charmain Carrol Photography 076 1810009 (29 of 44)

Images taken at Wilsonswharf Durban Harbour

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