SINCE 2017, plus size beauty queen, Sebabatso Litlali (21) has been defying the fashion business stereotype that models are petite individuals.
She was the first plus size model to compete in the Face of Lesotho pageant on 26 February 2022 where she made it to the top six of the competition out of 15 participants.
Born and bred in Maseru, Sebabatso started her modelling career under Tgee Modelling Agency in 2017.
Her first career highlight was in 2019 when she was crowned Miss Spring Plus Size Lesotho.
And this year she scored another first when she contested in the Face of Lesotho pageant, the second largest after Miss Lesotho.
Sebabatso is currently a manager at Sothokids Modelling Agency and a board member at Mokherane Chaltin Tsatsanyane (MCT) Entertainment.
In her short time as a professional model, she has been engaged by different entities for brand ambassadorship including LNIG Hollard, Elibo Guest House, Hessie Creations and Flava Entertainment.
Among some of her exploits on the runway is being named the Miss Lesotho Plus World finalist 2019/20 and Miss Spring Plus Size Best Bikini Model in 2019. She was also crowned Miss Local Plus Size in 2020.
In January this year, Sebabatso was awarded a certificate of appreciation by Sothokids Modelling Agency for her valuable contribution to the sector and was also named The Most Hardworking Model by the same agency in January this year.
In an interview with the Weekender this week, Sebabatso said she was surprised to be the only plus size model in Face of Lesotho pageant this year. Therefore, she encouraged other models of her structure to brave it and strut their stuff on the ramp.
“I was surprised that I was the only plus size person who had applied to take part in the contest,” Sebabatso said this week.
“I encourage plus size women to seize pageantry opportunities. To those who are contemplating joining, I urge them to join quickly and believe that they will make it against all odds.”
However, those who choose to start modelling must be prepared to face stigma from people who question why they are modelling when they are big bodied, she said.
“People in Lesotho have not yet embraced the idea of plus size models. I have to explain to people that I am big but still a model and it is exhausting. I hope my involvement in several pageantries will help sensitise Basotho to embrace plus size modelling.”
To help empower young people to have self-esteem and recognisable brands, Sebabatso will this year be focussing on a project about building self-image and mental health.
“When I was learning about self-image, I discovered that mental health is core to human life. Since that discovery, I have been doing seminars teaching people about the importance of mental health.
“I have also toured different schools and hosted seminars where I was teaching about how self-image can affect one’s life whether positively or negatively. The way one perceives themselves and those around them is important,” Sebabatso said.
Inspired by South African plus size model and influencer, Thick Leeyonce, Sebabatso opines that the exposure that she has gained since 2017 has helped her become a stronger person mentally.
“The modelling industry has made me stronger. Whenever I go out there, I learn new things about myself. My capabilities surprise me all the time, self-development has been the benefit.”
She is also passionate about humanitarian work and says any beauty queen must influence change by caring for the people around her.