Mixing It Up With Candashian

Plus size model Candashian is taking over the world one runway at a time.

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Candice Manuel, aka Candashian, is a motivational model from Mitchells Plain who has taken the modelling industry by storm. Manuel is also a body positivity activist, entrepreneur, and the host of ‘Keeping up with Candashian’ on YOH Radio. Further to this, she  runs a children’s party line, owns an apparel range consisting of goodies printed with motivational quotes, and is the founder of the very successful Embrace Your Curves movement.

 

Manuel started her modelling career at the tender age of 18 to support her unemployed parents. Only three years later, she was getting  rejected for “being too fat”. “In the years that followed, the weight crept on and I was no longer marketable as a model. I had my contract terminated at the age of 21 as I was considered to be too fat for the industry, which made my confidence drop dramatically,” says Manuel. She soon regained her confidence and launched the Embrace Your Curves movement which is a platform for all women, no matter their size, shape or colour, to inspire each other.

The platform encourages women to send through their motivational stories to Manuel, who then arranges for  an interview that includes  make-up and a mini photoshoot, which is shared on the Embrace Your Curves Facebook page. When asked to describe the movement, Manuel says: “We’ve created something to break all barriers. As women, aside from societal expectations, it is also our own fears that get in our way of reaching our full capabilities. We need to step out of our own way and realise that we deserve and can achieve what we desire and more.”

 

Manuel’s YouTube video PLUS IS EQUAL is a testament to her mission to break down societal boundaries, which she approaches in her typical light-hearted and playful way. The video shows Manuel removing items of clothing while walking down a street, much to the approval of curious on-lookers. “We can’t take ourselves too seriously! We are all equal and should all be comfortable in our own skin.”

 

In 2018, Manuel entered the #GHMiladysModelSearch and went on to become one of the six winners. “I entered the #GHMiladysModelSearch because I want to play my part in breaking the narrow- minded moulds that society subscribes to around plus-size women. I also want to motivate and uplift my community; to demonstrate that life’s circumstances don’t define you,” says Manuel. Body shaming and criticism unfortunately go hand in hand with being considered a plus size model. This, however, has only motivated her to speak out louder and be bolder against those with narrow minds and preconceived ideas about what it means to be considered to be beautiful. “We are all created in God’s image and I don’t believe that he makes any mistakes,” adds Manuel.

 

Towards the end of 2018, Manuel was selected as one of the few plus size models to walk the runway at the African Fashion International Show (AFI) in Johannesburg, where she modelled the much-loved Ruff Tung label. This was by far one of the biggest opportunities of her career to date, and proof that things are definitely changing in the fashion industry.  The plus size industry was valued at over $21 billion in the United States in 2018 and it is evident that some of that growth is tricking down to South Africa.  More local clothing brands are starting to carry plus size ranges and curvier models are being accepted in the limelight.

That being said, being a model in South Africa, whether it be “standard” or plus size is certainly not a sustainable stand-alone career just yet. Most models have to supplement their incomes with a 9 to 5 job or multiple part-time jobs. As Manuel says, “It’s a very tricky business and requires lots of hard work, commitment, patience and confidence. It’s not as glamourous as it’s perceived.” However, aspiring models shouldn’t be deterred from following their dreams. If anything, it should drive more young women to aspire to flaunt their curves and grace the covers of top magazines and campaigns.

Having achieved so much in such a short period of time can only bode well for the body positivity activist, so  ‘Keep up with Candashian’ as she continues to break boundaries and uplifts and  inspires her South African sisters.

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