Body-confident, plus-sized Cape Town model, Charnelle Paulse is quickly becoming more and more recognised in the plus-sized fashion scene. From working with the biggest plus-sized brand of its kind in South Africa, Donna, to becoming one of the faces for Jimmy Nevis’ clothing line, York – Charnelle’s not stopping for anyone. We spoke to Paulse about Women’s Month, the pressures of the modelling industry, and her favourite part of being a woman.

1. What does Women’s Month mean to you?

Women’s Month is a very special month as its reminder of our true strengths and potential we have as women! It’s about women coming together, unifying and celebrating our strengths and weaknesses.

2. What made you want to model?

I’ve always been an entertainer, so I think it was the fashion, the make-up, the different ways one could express themselves through a smile, a dress, a purple lip, a walk on the ramp, a ponytail etc. The list is endless. I could become someone else by staying me,as it’s a form of acting! There are so many factors. I’ve always been drawn to the modelling industry.

3. How do you stay body-confident amidst unrealistic standards within the

modeling industry?

It’s taken many years to get to this point. But I think it’s really embracing who you are, as a whole – your body, (every curve, dimple and stretch mark), your mindset, who you associate yourself with. I try and workout 3-4 times a week as it’s makes me feel confident and strong. I do a lot of personal development so I read everyday and always surround myself with people that are positive, encouraging and has the same outlook on life they way I do!

4. How do you combat body-shaming?

By continuing to live my truth. I’m not easily deterred by people’s opinions. I remember MY WHY.. MY WHY is fighting for all the woman that thought they were not good enough because of media ( magazines, tv) social media etc had told them so!

5. What would you say to South African women who feel like they have to fit a certain mould?

The world is too big to want to fit in! Be yourself, stand out, that’s YOUR power!!!

6. How do you ignore the pressures of the “skinny” modeling expectation and standards?

I’m proud of what I do, I’m proud that I’m one of the very few pioneers of the plus size industry in South Africa. To be quite honest I don’t feel pressurized to be skinny. I feel pressurized to be healthy. Healthy is the new skinny!!

7. What is your favourite part of being a woman?

Being a woman allows me to feel deeply, to love deeply and that assists me to become a better sister, daughter, wife and friend. As a woman i can truly do it all by being gracious and wearing stilettos while I’m at it 😉

Photography Courtesy

Article written by

Nikki Louw

Nikki Louw is an avid food eater and wine drinker with a passion for writing about it too. She's a creative by heart, with a love for visual arts and feature writing, which she applies everyday in covering culture, art and food and drink pieces. She also enjoys writing trending news pieces and exploring topics such as gender issues and social consciousness. Outside of the Journalism realm, Nikki tries her hand at painting and drawing. She has a collection of unfinished canvases and completed oil paintings alike, stacking up in the corner of her bedroom.