“I always say, with the haters, the only time they get mentioned is when they mention my name, otherwise nobody is talking to them on Twitter,” says the popular photographer Lesego Legobane on the hate she experiences online.
Known to Black Twitter as Thickleeyonce, her alter ego, Lesego has taken heat on Twitter for her weight. But through the medium she has also been able to gain increased attention for her photography work.
“I’m not just relevant for nothing. There is actually something I’m doing right, as opposed to people always talking about you and asking, ‘What does she do?’”
A law student at Wits University, Thickleeyonce has made her mark on the photography industry. Every time you see her handle trending on Twitter, it’s usually because of the pictures she releases on social media.
Chilling at Great Dane in Braamfontein, Thickleeyonce breaks down how everything started. She has taken pictures of the popular celebs including singer Kelly Khumalo, presenter Lehasa Moloi and actress Omuhle Gela, just to name a few.
“Usually I get approached by most of them. What happened was: I started taking pictures of Boity, who is my cousin, and a lot of her other celebrity friends were like, ‘You got cool pictures. Who takes them?’ and obviously she would say, ‘It’s my cousin,’ and they would ask me to take pictures of them too,” says Lesego.
As a marketing strategy, it worked. The celebrities she shoots usually have a huge following and help spread the word about her work. Now, Thickleeyonce has grown into a prominent photographer, especially on platforms like Instagram and Tumblr.
With so many followers, likes, hits and reblogs on her pages, you’d think she would build her own website to drive traffic directly to her page – but nah fam.
“Tumblr is not just about ‘I want to create a play play site’ it’s actually a movement. It’s one of the biggest sites in the world and I get to share my work with people overseas. Some of the biggest blogs overseas have been reblogging my work. That’s why I’ve stuck to Tumblr because my work actually goes viral,” she says with smile.
Her work is not the only thing that has gone viral. The first time I saw this beauty was when one of her pictures went viral. But she didn’t take the picture; she was in it. It was taken by a photographer who runs a not-so-credible site called Blackfaff.
“I wasn’t actually modelling, that was only a coincidence.”
“I was actually supposed to shoot for them, but then Thabiso liked what he saw and then he said it would be cool if I modelled for them. It was also a cool marketing strategy since I have a huge following.”
Oh! So it was never about modelling for them? It was more about getting the work out there and you posing for them happened to be the best strategy at the time?
“Yes. Usually with being a Blackfaff girl, you’d do it continuously. With me it was just a once off thing.”
Fast forward nearly four years later. The pictures you see of her are more professional and she looks beautiful in the pictures she takes of herself. People have different opinions about her pictures and some have been insulting, trying to break her down with the comments and remarks they post.
“I love myself the way I am and what other people have to say that’s their business, but at the end of the day I am human, I have feelings,” she states.
“One thing about social media bullies is that they are cowards, they are a bunch of COWARDS! In high school and primary I was never bullied face-to-face because I know how to stand up for myself and I WILL put you in your place,” she confidently adds.
People who send hate tweets think that bumping into Thickleeyonce is something that may never happen, something that likely never crosses their minds while they are hiding behind their smartphones. Well,
“One of the people who were tweeting sh*t about me goes to Wits. I zoomed into her profile picture and I was like ‘I know this girl’. I went to campus and I approached and I was like…”
She switches her tone of voice as if acting in the Mean Girls movie,
“Hello? You had something to say about me on Twitter? And she was apologising saying, ‘No sorry, someone was tweeting for me,’ and I was like you see? You can say it on Twitter but never in my face.”
Point is? Don’t f**k around with Lee.
She embraces her body and inspires young girls to do the same by shooting with the girls or mentoring them via email or just sharing advise on her pages.
“I met a girl who told me no guy has never told her she’s beautiful. That’s the problem, why does a man have to tell you you are beautiful before you know it?”
“I had a photoshoot with her and after that I posted her pictures and so many guys went and followed her and told her she was beautiful and I feel like I’ve done something for her.”
Thickleeyonce has bagged a few brand endorsements like Madam Touch Clothing, which she models for, and a few other brands that actually pay her to tweet about them or post pictures of herself wearing their products. That’s not all, she also recently collaborated with Sowetan Live for the Mzansi’s Sexiest 2015 calendar shoot. She expressed her proud moment on Twitter and shared the link too.
Such a proud moment for me !!!! Please check this out http://t.co/WvjkGoX2hf
— Black Girl Supremacy (@ThickLeeyonce) November 11, 2014
Do you get paid to tweet and post for major brands? Or do you have one of SA’s biggest publications calling you for shoots? Doubt it. Before you hate on people like Lesego, you might just want to think about that and the prospect of running into her in the real world because she “WILL put you in your place”.
Follow Lesego: @Thickleeyonce
Check out her work: leephottoshots.tumblr.com/