Leigh Crymble
2 minute read
6 Mar 2014
7:00 am

The Lo Down: The power of pop culture

Leigh Crymble

The past month has seen much debate and divided opinion in the world of South African beauty and fashion.

Picture supplied

This week, I recap some momentous moments and reflect on why they matter.

The #BoityReaction

First up in the controversy stakes was what has become known as “Boity’s booty” – when South African actress Boity Thulo bared her full rear-end for Marie Claire’s annual naked edition to raise awareness for The Lunchbox Fund. On the day of the magazine reveal, Boity was the most searched for word in South Africa with a staggering 20 000 searches on Google – double that of the Parliamentary State of the Nation Address on the same day.

Reaction was split, however. Some praised Thulo for having the confidence to be photographed in the bootylicious pose whilst others criticised her for revealing too much. Although indifferent to the media frenzy that her derriere caused, Thulo maintains that the process was an empowering one for her, and her hope is that it inspires other South African women to be proud of their bodies and comfortable in their own skin.

Post-modern media

And then came the Previdar pictorial featuring Johannesburg socialite Mika Stefano. Wearing dark makeup, the idea behind Stefano’s shoot was to emphasise gender and racial ambiguities with him, a white male, dressed as a black female. Founding editor-in-chief of Previdar, Lawrence Manyapelo, believes that although we have come a long way with regard to our political and social freedom, “there are still clear lines dividing outdated ideas of tradition”. The reaction to the Previdar pictorial was much the same as that of the Marie Claire one – many endorsed it while just as many vehemently opposed it. Through the photoshoot, though, Manyapelo hopes “to dispel antiquated ideas of racial barriers”.

A vehicle for change

What is clear from the debate sparked by both Thulo and Stefano is that social commentary through art, beauty, fashion, and design is a significant vehicle for challenging, if not changing, mindsets. Whether it is to do with the construct of gender or race, editors of publications such as Marie Claire and Previdar believe it is their duty to push boundaries and get South Africans talking about these important issues – even if we don’t endorse the way it is done.

What are your thoughts on Boity’s booty and Mika’s makeup? Social commentary or simply sensationalist? Weigh in on twitter @Le1ghLo.