Former YoTV presenter and radio personality Hulisani Ravele recently took to Instagram to emphasise just how much representation matters, and how seeing a black woman who looks like her on TV and in magazines inspired her.

Hulisani posted a snap of herself holding a magazine with prominent fashion and media personality Noni Gasa on the cover. She said the issue is so special to her, it stays in its sleeve.

“I have had this Destiny issue for just over four years, it still stays in its sleeve. It’s no secret what a pivotal role Noni Gasa played in my life when it comes to building my self-esteem and loving myself as I am,” the 31-year-old wrote.

The presenter went on to provide statistics showing that when young women see people who look like them in major media, they see themselves in a better light, accept their looks and celebrate their features. Which is what Noni did for a young freckled Hulisani.

“Studies show that better representation in media and advertising can have a positive impact on girls. Eight in 10 South African women say that this would enable girls to grow up without feeling that they are being judged just on their looks and 8 in 10 believe that it would mean that girls were not held back by gender stereotypes.”

Hulisani celebrates herself so much that even when others try to put her down, she rises above the negativity and shows kindness and maturity instead.

The Venda beauty also praised Noni for her hard work and determination.

“It is for the reasons above that this cover made an impact on me the way that it did. For years we had known and seen Noni in front of the cameras and on the runway. This cover was different because the focus was not her beauty, style, and grace, but instead it told the story of how she had packed her life, moved overseas to further her studies, and had now returned to head up PR for Woolworths. Just when I thought Noni couldn’t inspire me more, she did. She was more than her looks, I have no doubt she always knew that, but because of this cover and this story, the world did too.

“Seeing someone who looks like you being represented in the media like this can never be underrated. It reminded the little girl in me that just because I look different from many other children, my dreams and goals are still valid. It reminded me that even though I look different from other children, I still matter.”

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I have had this Destiny issue for just over 4 years, it still stays in its sleeve. ?? It’s no secret what a pivotal role Noni Gasa played in my life when it comes to building my self-esteem and loving myself as I am. Studies show that better representation in media and advertising can have a positive impact on girls. 8 in 10 South African women say that this would enable girls to grow up without feeling that they are being judged just on their looks and 8 in 10 believe that it would mean that girls were not held back by gender stereotypes. It is for the reasons above that this cover made an impact on me the way that it did. For years we had known and seen Noni in front of the cameras and on the runway. This cover was different because the focus was not her beauty, style, and grace, but instead it told the story of how she had packed her life, moved overseas to further her studies, and had now returned to head up PR for Woolworths. Just when I thought Noni couldn’t inspire me more, she did. She was more than her looks, I have no doubt she always knew that, but because of this cover and this story, the world did too. Seeing someone who looks like you being represented in the media like this can never be underrated. It reminded the little girl in me that just because I look different from many other children, my dreams and goals are still valid. It reminded me that even though I look different from other children, I still matter. Destiny magazine and Noni Gasa did THAT. ?? . . . @dove’s Project #ShowUs and the #DoveSelfEsteemProgramme are making incredible strides in changing the narrative of beauty stereotypes for women and helping to build a confident generation of young girls, respectively. It is also up to media houses, Film & TV productions, the advertising industry at large to do the same. The stories you tell, how you tell them, and who you use to tell them, matters. . . . #DovePartner #Ad #Advertisement #Sponsored

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Over the years Noni Gasa has proven to be a force to be reckoned with, and most recently the Project Runway SA judge launched a bursary for one deserving student seeking to pursue a career in fashion.

She’s passionate about unearthing the next generation of African talent and is calling for applications from prospective design students who are unable to afford private education. With sponsorships from Woolworths, Elna and Rain, the winning candidate will have their full tuition as well as their living expenses covered for three years, to the value of R460 000.

“The success of Thebe Magugu, Laduma Ngxokolo and Rich Mnisi have made it possible for the African child to dream more audaciously and they are proof that we have all it takes to compete against the best in the world. I believe that, through this incredible opportunity, we’ll discover and develop the next big name in the game and an ambassador for the African continent,” Noni said.