Langa Lloyd began modelling in 1994 at the age of 23 and went on to be a contestant in Miss Universe 20 years go. Like the current Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, Langa was the only contestant with short hair.
Langa comes from a simple and humble family. She was born in Kezi, which is a village in Matabeleland South province in Zimbabwe. The language spoken in Kezi is mostly Ndebele and some Kalanga. Langa plays different roles socially from daughter, mother, wife to being a friend, but above all, she is a woman brought up by strong and yet simple values and virtues, and that has helped her navigate her life. Langa recently talked to The Weight She Carries about some of the valuable lessons she has learned about loving herself.
How did you start your modelling career? Did you get much support from your family?
I decided to join a modelling agency for confidence building. I was super awkwardly tall, rather skinny and to be honest, I was a bag of bones tomboy. So, at some point, I realized that I would need to build my self-confidence to at least love my “odd” body. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made for my confidence. I started to enjoy the oddness and I used it to my advantage.
My parents believed modelling was not for the smart. They believed in formal education so much that it was difficult for them to come to terms with my modeling career. However, they did support me reluctantly. My parents were old school. I am grateful for their push towards education. Having a degree was something I knew I could always fall back on if what I was passionately pursuing failed.
Tell us about your time as a model. What challenges did you face and what key lessons did you learn?
Modelling helped me appreciate my God-given talents, but it wasn’t easy. Modelling in Zimbabwe was so different from just going across the border to South Africa. I remember when I arrived in Johannesburg, the head booker at the agency took one look at my pictures and told me to give my grandmother my portfolio because my pictures were “horrible,” yet all along I was thinking my pictures were hot.
Every part of my life, there is always something to learn. In modelling, looking great with your body in check, is critical. So, I learnt to look after myself during and long after I stopped modeling – something I have kept doing up to now.
How did it feel to be different because of your hair? How did you manage that moment of feeling different from everyone else?
Having short hair as a model wasn’t odd. It became odd when I was in Miss Universe. Back in the day, beauty queens had to have long, straight hair. So yes, I did stand out, but it never bothered me. I have always felt comfortable with short hair. It is who I am. So, I don’t remember feeling different until there was a need to have my hair done during the pageant and there was no one within the pageant’s stylists to do my hair. We were allowed to go out and look for someone to do my hair. Thanks to Yvette D’Almeida, my chaperone, we managed to find one. I had won in Zimbabwe with short hair, so why change it? I was proud of my look.
Being part of the Miss Universe [pageant] was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. Knowing that the hopes of my country laid on my shoulders, representing the country to the best of my capabilities. It was an amazing year. Holding my Zim flag with the greatest of pride. Nothing beats that. I truly understand why athletes get emotional when they are on top of that podium. It’s a feeling like no other. It’s not just about personal triumph but the country’s love too.
What is your advice to women wanting to pursue modelling?
It’s an exciting and short career. One has to have a tough skin. You don’t always get the jobs you want. You are either going to be too dark, too light, too something or the other. You are competing for one job among hundreds of other stunningly gorgeous women. Your confidence may be dented as you start to doubt your looks and capabilities. So, when you don’t get the job, don’t be hard on yourself. Know that you may not always fit the brief.
What is your advice to women with regards to self-image?
This is a toughie as we are bombarded by images of what women should look like. I believe as long as a woman is feeling great, healthy and happy with her body, surely that is more important. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I also believe personality always wins.
What have been your key achievements?
I have been blessed beyond measure with all sorts of exciting achievements in my life. There are too many to count. Representing my country in Miss Universe is right up there. It’s a privilege to have had such an opportunity. I have started a few businesses in the past, but I am ever so proud of House of Langa, where it is and where it’s going. Our mineral makeup line is doing well, bringing confidence to women.
Tell us more about House of Langa.
House of Langa is a Zimbabwean established company which has a cosmetics line. The cosmetics line has natural, vegan-certified mineral makeup and [we’re] developing a skincare line using organic African extracts. Our makeup line gives women flawless, glowing skin. We also have a homeware line, upcycling, recycling once treasured items back to life. We also have a food line, which uses some of the ingredients we use in our skincare. We believe what we put on our skins should be good enough to eat. We have developed a scrumptious relish and preserve using the rind of the Kalahari melon. We use the seed oil in our skincare; we use the flesh of the Kalahari melon to make porridge.
You can follow Langa across social media platforms @LangaCosmetics