EXACTLY 25 years ago, when beauty queens were synonymous with long and straight hair, Langa Lloyd Sibanda bucked the trend by strutting her way to victory on the Miss Universe Zimbabwe catwalk, donning short hair.
With her trademark short hair, Kezi-born Langa then represented Zimbabwe in 1996 at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, where she was not out of place on the runway alongside beautiful women from all over the world.
Though she was unplaced at Miss Universe 1996, Langa, who ventured into modelling in 1994, at the age of 23, managed to reawaken among Zimbabwean women a sense of African beauty with a difference.
Thanks to her exploits on the Miss Universe runway, many Zimbabwean women began to realise that one could be dark and beautiful at the same time.
Precedent-setting Langa was blessed with the height and weight that conformed to beauty industry standards, however, her venture into modelling was not a walk in the park.
“I was this young superbly awkward girl, who used to be teased because of her appearance…I was skinny, too tall, too dark.
“I then realised that I needed to build self-confidence, love my odd body and complement my God -given talents.
“I therefore started modelling to build confidence,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.
Her modelling stint made her gain confidence in her own skin and body.
She also realised that there were limited options for the dark African skin in the cosmetics line.
As a result, she formed House of Langa, which initially catered for dark skinned women before developing into an inclusive brand.
“The House of Langa cosmetics line is a natural, vegan certified mineral makeup. I came up with this cosmetics line to bridge the gap that I faced during my modelling days.
“Back then the modelling industry didn’t have a foundation that matched the African skin; it was either too light or too dark with a colour, which made African skin awkward among others,” said Langa.
According to Miss Universe 1996, House of Langa’s skin care is made of organic African extracts.
“Our make-up line gives women flawless, glowing skin. We also have a homeware line, up cycling, 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,” Langa said.
As part of giving back to Matabeleland South which gave birth to her, Langa, who holds a political science degree, is assisting women in Kezi to do income-generating projects
“I collaborate with women who make leather bags and also help women from Kezi, my rural home, who are mostly single women to work hard using their own hands to fend for their families,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.