She glides in the room, hips swinging from side to side. Armed with a magnetic smile and an aura of self-confidence, her presence immediately demands the attention of those in the room. You cannot miss her. She is the one with the larger-than-life personality, and a body to match. This is Precious Mokotedi, known by her legion of fans as Lady Precious M.
Lady Precious M is a plus size model; one of Botswana’s very few. The 23-year-old Instagram influencer hails from Jwaneng but likes to describe herself as a citizen of the world. And sure enough, she has penetrated the international markets as a plus size model and brand ambassador. The epitome of beauty with brains, Lady Precious M is a graduate of Medical Laboratory Science.
While she wears many hats, her passion lies in promoting body positivity among young women through her modelling career. The goal, she says, is to ensure that unrealistic feminine beauty standards make way for a more whole-bodied and realistic approach.
Body positivity is a social movement that focuses on acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone and/or physical ability while challenging present-day beauty standards. It is the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture views their appearance.
The spunky plus size model talks to Time Out about promoting a positive body image in an era where body shaming and cyberbullying are prevalent online. Lady Precious M also talks about her own experiences of overcoming bullying for being ‘overweight’.
Time Out: How did you get into modelling?
Lady Precious M: I got into this industry in 2016 when I was a contestant for Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana. I didn’t win, but my experience with interacting with the contestants really taught me a lot – self-appreciation, confidence and breaking the borders of societal standards of beauty. So overall, it broke the ice for me and introduced me to the industry and taught me how to be confident because that is what you need to make it in the industry. You really must be self-confident.
TO: Talk to us about your own challenges and how you overcame them.
LPM: The size of the clothes. When they imagine a pattern, most designers don’t imagine it on a plus size woman but sketch for a petite body. So it becomes really difficult if a client wants to incorporate a plus size woman in their photoshoot or their work because there are hardly ever sizes that fit. And even if they fit, sometimes they don’t sit right because unlike petite bodies, plus size bodies come in a variety of shapes. The women that have succeeded in the industry are big women but they retained the shape of a petite woman. I personally have a very exaggerated figure, so it becomes difficult for me to properly showcase clothes that were made for a regular shaped person.
TO: What then does it mean to be body-positive?
LPM: Being body positive starts with identifying your personal image preference. That is key. Identify what you like. That way you won’t be swayed by just anything. Being a plus size woman, if I was swayed by other people’s opinions, I would have lost weight not of my free will but to be what they want me to be. If you go with what the world wants you to be, your confidence will be killed.
People tend to give uncalled for advice and unsolicited opinions online. And if I wasn’t body positive or confident, I wouldn’t be able to shrug it off the way that I do. If somebody wants you to be what they think you should be, that’s their problem, not yours. I have seen cyberbullying breaking many models and even chasing away aspiring ones. This is why it is important to know who you are and to love yourself. If you don’t love what you are now, there is always a chance to change it.
TO: We know that being overweight comes with certain health dangers. How do we draw the line between accepting one’s body and associated health risks?
LPM: If truth be told, not everyone aspires to be at optimum health. People smoke because they want to, for example. People eat unhealthy foods yet they know the health risks. But with that said, body size isn’t the definition of health; it is an influencing factor in that you are predisposed to certain health conditions. And I will stress that health is important because even as a plus size woman you have to eat right, stay active and still find a way to maintain those curves. It is about finding the right balance.