Charnelle Paulse who is only 33 years old, born-and-bred in the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa is not only a plus size model but one of the pioneers of the industry in South Africa. She has signed to Ice Genetics modelling agency since 2014 and she is currently the face of Donna stores (the biggest plus size brand in South Africa) and Spree (the biggest online store in South Africa. Charnelle is also a representative of Lilly and Lime, an Australian swimwear brand, Ackermans, Jet Stores, Truworths just to name a few.

Charnelle has completed a TV presenting course at OnCue Communications in Randburg, Johannesburg, where current TV personalities such as Bonang Matheba and Elana Afrika also attended prior. She worked as the Content Manager and Producer of Ajax CT TV (2014-Jan 2015) and as presenter of Ajax CT TV show (2014-Jan 2015) Ajax CT TV aired weekly Thursdays at 9pm on CTV.

Her involvement with media and the fashion industry, has established a passion to empower women. Being involved in the media and especially fashion industry for so long, Charnelle has become passionate about women/girl empowerment. The industry has revealed to her the many self-esteem, self-respect, self-love and self-worth issues that females face, and she believes that if these issues are not identified and dealt with at an early stage of life, it will affect our decisions in life. There are so many self-esteem, self-respect, self-love, self-worth issues etc; that later affect decisions and choices in life (the list continues)

Being a plus size model, she has often felt that her body was unsatisfactory to the standard set, often not feeling good enough about my body. From a young age, she was ridiculed as she dreamed of becoming a model. Being ridiculed about her dream to become a model and now reaching her dream and combating her flaws and self-inflicted weaknesses, she wants to use her own story, combined with her experiences in the fashion and media industry, to help and assist our communities, schools, Cape Town etc. In doing so, she’s recently joined an NGO called, The Dignity Campaign as their Ambassador.

The Dignity Campaign provides training to women from various backgrounds to become Dignity Facilitators. These Facilitators are trained to run Dignity Events in their Communities, churches and schools. Girls are invited to a day filled with information on self-worth, the importance of making good choices and how to find and pursue their purpose in life. The girls then process the received information through several creative activities.  Part of the program is a session on identity, belonging and purpose, female dignity, hygiene and menstrual management.  They are also given the opportunity to choose either a menstrual cup or washable panties and pads.

The cost for one girl to attend a Dignity Event is R 300-00. For this they receive a Dignity Diary with helpful information and a sanitary product of their choice, either a menstrual cup or washable panties and pads. Both products are environmental friendly and last up to 5 years.

Charnelle has registered with the campaign for their next training, which took place in August. Following the training she wishes to implement what she has learnt, together with her experience as a plus size model to inspire and motivate girls to:

RUAN: Can you share with us how your modelling career and journey has been thus far?

CHARNELLE: It’s been a challenging yet exciting journey so far. When I started in 2012 I never knew I would be a part of an era that would change so many mindsets, industries and outlook on beauty, fashion, body shapes etc.

RUAN: You are seen as one of the current plus-size models that are pioneering the industry with your successes. What has that been like for you?

CHARNELLE: It’s been nothing less than PHENOMENAL! So many women have realized their true essence as a woman, whatever shape, size or skin colour they are. I think that has been the best part of it all for me. We are an army of like-minded, strong fempreneurs that has only just begun!

RUAN: You are involved with The Dignity Campaign can you share your role in that and how you aim to share your story with other women by not only empowering them, but also helping them fulfill their purpose in life as well as making sound life choices?

CHARNELLE: At Dignity Campaign we help young women establish who they are by assisting them in focusing on their IDENTITY, BELONGING and PURPOSE in life. We also educate them on health eg. their menstrual cycle. There are many young women (and men) who lack the basic fundamentals of life and we teach them the importance of morals and values. This is an amazing campaign where important life lessons are taught and we trust by the end of the sessions they have a sense of who they really are.

RUAN: How do we “Start” the conversation about plus-sized models (what exactly is it, what does it all entail, is there a market for it in SA)?

CHARNELLE: The ‘Plus Size model talk’ has been the talk around many tables lately. It is has taken the fashion industry by storm and refreshingly shaken things up. Plus size modelling is for models sizes 12 – 18 in South Africa. It’s also someone that embraces her shape, size and beauty and prides herself in her identity, knowing who she truly is and what she represents. There’s a huge market for it in South Africa.

RUAN: What are some of the campaigns as a plus-sized model that you have worked on?

CHARNELLE: Right now I’m part of the Ackermans denim and lingerie campaign. I’ve also been part of Donna, Superbalist, Edgar’s and Jet campaigns to name a few.

RUAN: Body shaming is a current battle we face worldwide, how have you handled it?

CHARNELLE: Body shaming happens on a daily basis, not only with curvier shaped women, but skinny women as well. It’s sad how people would place their insecurities on the next person. It shows their insecurity in themselves by body shaming someone else who might be comfortable in their own skin. It doesn’t really affect me. It rather makes me feel sorry for the body-shamer and deep down I always hope they heal from whatever demons they are dealing with.

RUAN: How are you making plus-sized modelling a positive look and being healthy and living your best life?

CHARNELLE: Lately I haven’t been too happy with my body. I haven’t been in the best shape I know I can be. So I’ve started being more aware of what I eat and respecting my body by doing so. I hope I can inspire and be a positive encouragement to other plus size models to take care of their health. Mental health is also vital especially in the industry we work in, so take care of that too. Confidence is not how we look but rather how we feel!

RUAN: How do you feel about Female empowerment and why women should support each other in all industries?

CHARNELLE: Female empowerment is so important. We each others biggest supporters but also biggest critics. We can do much more together, than apart! I grew up in a household with my mom and two sisters. I believe their support has helped me become the woman I am today and I therefore know nothing else but to encourage and empower women.

RUAN: Why is it so important for you to spread the message that women should love and respect themselves in all areas of life (practicing self-care, self-love and self-acceptance)?

CHARNELLE: There are so many answers to this question. When you love and respect yourself, it’s inevitable that you love and respect the next person you encounter. There’s such a lack of it In society today. So start with yourself, and help create a better community for yourself and the people you surrounded by. You cannot depend on people to validate your existence. Especially in the day and age we live in and the social media platforms we exposed to. We compare ourselves to someone else’s ‘pic of the day’, filled with filters and so many other extras that comes with it. However, if you know who you are, you cannot be shaken. If you live for someone else’s compliments, you will also die by their criticism.

RUAN: If you could some your life right now by using a hashtag (#) what would it be and why?

CHARNELLE: #Dignity. I believe as a woman I have a calmer yet more serious outlook with a determined spirit, and that has garnered respect from people.

RUAN: Do you have any inspirational words you would like to share with any one who is struggling with the way they feel about their bodies?

CHARNELLE: If you feeling negative about your body. Identify the problem, take responsibility and start doing something about it. Only you can help you!!! Strive to live your best life! Start today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *