The African woman has repeatedly been beheld as the backbone of communities, with this recognition expressed through sayings and anecdotes demonstrating the strength and resilience of the women across. In this spirit, meet Nothando Hlophe; a Mpumalanga based businesswoman of many titles including radio presenter, MC, Make up artist and founder of the ‘Behold Her Africa’ organization which houses the ‘Miss Chubby’ movement for plus sized and fuller-figured women, Her Boss Beats Make up Artistry’ and NH Fragrances. In the modern day society of the ‘Instagram body’ and socially idealized standards of beauty, Miss Hlophe has stepped in to set the misconceptions straight and strengthen the esteem of women who now stand where she once did.
Born in Matsulu, Mpumalanga, Nothando Hlophe describes herself as a business-minded, kind and knowledge-seeking woman. She expresses the importance of a healthy curiosity to grow oneself as a person, of being uncomfortable with comfortability and above all, being self-aware. “As a chubbier woman, I have had to deal with body shaming, sarcasm and indirect insulting comments aimed at my appearance. People would spew opinions about this at me which was previously a huge trigger for me,” she explains. These experiences, along with those being lived by others became the source of the creative force that Miss Hlophe has built herself to become.
Firstly, she is a self-taught make-up artist who has built her skills from the ground up. She also works in the entertainment industry as an events MC and a Wiggle-tunes radio presenter. She laughingly states, “I was out with my friends one day and literally summoned the manager of the place, letting him know I could do a great job on that microphone, he asked me to prove it… and the rest is history, I have been getting bookings ever since.” She has since worked alongside celebrities around the province with her highlight being the Make-up artist chosen to feature in South African Musician, Tipcee’s, music video.
“Miss Chubby is about a girl who once had her confidence taken away, it is a self-love revolution that embraces you regardless of your body shape, size or configuration. Society has been subliminally telling big girls that they are unworthy and the end of this narrative is being driven through the Miss Chubby movement.” The foundation of this idea came from the identified need to instill confidence among young girls who are struggling with their body image, self-esteem and confidence due to the size of their bodies. She explains, “I want this brand to be the voice for women who have been driven to hate and struggle to accept themselves because of their physical appearance. I am here to validate them, encourage self-love and show them the heights that they could reach regardless of this preconceived limitation.” Since its conception the company had recruited approximately 15 young women who were being mentored and equipped with life skills aimed at adjusting their view of themselves and changing their narratives. Unfortunately the dawn of Covid-19 put a hold on the progression of this programme but the dedication to follow through and recruit more women is underway.
Furthermore her mission is to “help those who want to help themselves, we can only do so much for people who are not willing to accept help. Therefore, to empower each other is to work on ourselves first, to unlearn and relearn a few ideologies, then collaborate with each other in this battle against misogyny. Together we can overturn this set of ideals that was intended to oppress us.” Through Behold Her Africa and the Miss Chubby establishment, Miss Hlophe is bringing the fight against body shaming to the forefront and rebuilding pride and confidence among young women one girl at a time.