A group of sorority sisters have come together to staged a photoshoot that spotlights the beauty of black women.
Recently, the members of Florida A&M University’s Delta Sigma Theta pledge class of 2007 met for a sorority reunion in Costa Rica.
To celebrate their friendships the ladies all wore skin-tone swimwear and posed together on the beach in a series of stunning photos they called ‘Melanin Illustrated’.
Big weekend: Florida A&M University’s Delta Sigma Theta pledge class of 2007 met for a reunion in Costa Rica
Black girl magic: The women wanted to make a statement about the often-overlooked beauty of black women
Ta-da! They posed together for a stunning beach photoshoot in nude swimsuits
Cute idea: They called the pictures ‘Melanin Illustrated’, inspired by the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Empowerment! ‘We wanted to convey the message that beauty is being confident,’ one of the sorority sisters said
Every five years all the women get together for a reunion, and this year added a little something special to the trip.
They decided to create a photoshoot for a joint Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue-style photoshoot, standing together on the beach in sexy, powerful poses.
‘We wanted to convey the message that beauty is being confident; that you are good enough and that is beauty in itself, no matter your size or shape,’ Amanda Byrd, 32, told USA Today.
‘Beauty is bringing your personal best to the table. That’s what beauty is to us,’ she added.
Fellow sister LaToya Owens told Yahoo! Style that they wanted to promote the beauty of black women in particular.
‘Beauty is bringing your personal best to the table. That’s what beauty is to us,’ said another of the sisters
Tough: It took the women four months of research to get everyone a nude swimsuit
Issue: A lot of suits marketed as ‘nude’ are really peach or beige and only ‘nude’ for white women
Girl power: ‘Black women are often overlooked in beauty,’ said one of the sorority sisters
‘Black women are often overlooked in beauty. This was our way to shine a light on all types of black beauty,’ she said. ‘We want to serve as an example and [show] appreciation of black women. Our commitment is to scholarship and service, and this was to honor the sisterhood.’
The sisters decided to wear swimwear matched to their own skin tone, embracing the nude swimwear trend which will give the photos an even more powerful punch.
This is where things proved a bit tricky. Though there are plenty of ‘nude’ swimsuits on the market, retailers often use the word to being beige or peach, which are only ‘nude’ for white women.
Shopping time: They all helped each other find suits in shades that matched their skin
Browns and tans: Kenneth Cole, Missguided, and Forever 21 were helpful sites
‘Even though we are all African American women, we are not all the same shade,’ said one sister
Sister Jardan Doneghy told Glamour that it took four months of research for every sister to find a shade of ‘nude’ that worked for her, since black skin can range so much in color and there’s already a death of options for them.
‘We had a group chat where we would share swimsuits to help each other out. Kenneth Cole came up in our chat twice. Some people got their suits at Missguided and Forever21 and one or two from Hot Miami Styles and Topshop,’ she added.
‘I spent time reaching out to brands directly, and one in particular has a lot of nudes, but not a lot of brown nudes. They had a lot of pale to pink swimsuits in what they consider “nude,” but that’s not African American nude, so we did have a lot of difficulty there. It took a lot of planning.
‘Even though we are all African American women, we are not all the same shade,’ said Byrd.
Variety’s the spice of life! The women showed that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes
Go for it: The women, who are doctors, lawyers, and business owners, also all stood with confidence
Insta-famous: They were surprised the images went viral but also pleased
Standing tall: They are spreading a message about knowing you’re good enough even if you’re overlooked and underrepresented
So glam: They also spent some time posing on a boat on the island
The images went viral and the most talked one, all 28 women are spread out near the shore. All the woman looked confident and sexy some showing off their hips, and some raise their arms above their heads.
‘We had no idea this would go viral,’ added Jardan. ‘But the fact that it did is proof that it’s uncommon to see such a large group of real women — mothers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, and educated black women — saying, “This is what beauty is.”
‘The media has a way of telling us what beauty should be,’ she went on. ‘We say beauty is being confident. Knowing that you are good enough — especially our African American sisters who may sometimes feel overlooked and underrepresented — that is beautiful in itself.’