These Black Women are “Beyond Classically Beautiful”, and Want You To Know That You Are Too

We know that Black is beautiful, yet it is still largely unappreciated and underrepresented in society.  In a response to the New York Times article referring to Viola Davis as “less classically beautiful”, a photo series was born. Curator Abi Ishola desired to strike back at the articles tone deaf comments and break the barrier of what the mainstream believes is beautiful. The photo series has expanded into the beauty movement Beyond Classically Beautiful the over the past 2 years.


Their newest photo series “Body Noire: A Celebration of Black Female Bodies” continues their mission of embracing Black beauty and shattering “beauty” standards.


This series highlights six beautiful Black women in all their glory, describing their journey with coming to love their bodies.


Nell Coleman, Promotional Model & Founder of The B.A.L.D.I.E Movement on her body:

“My body is a blessing. Without it I couldn’t exist on this earth and experience this thing we call life.  I allowed the outside world to influence how I saw my body which was in a negative light. I hated my body. The media, music, social media, the modeling world especially played a major role on how we see ourselves. We compare ourselves based on what is glorified for the moment and if we don’t look like what the masses deem beautiful then we too begin to feel less beautiful or alter our bodies to feel accepted”


Shanika Hillocks, PR Specialist on her Black women’s bodies:

“When I think about Black women’s bodies, a variety of emotions come to mind: pride, because with our presence, comes a story. When we occupy space, we exude confidence, incomparable beauty and swag about us that commands attention. We’re not a monolithic bunch, and I love being representative of the power found in our difference. If you haven’t realized already, Black Girl Magic exists.”


Jezra M, Model, Blogger, Women’s Advocate, & Founder of Pure Body Love on her body:

“I have some things about my body I’m currently working on but I love my body, I love the way I look and every day my relationship with my body gets stronger and stronger.”

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Taja Ellis, Health Coach/Entrepreneur on Black women’s bodies:

“I adore black women’s bodies. It took me a long time to appreciate everything about my own and now that I do, I love to see other black women celebrating their bodies. Their boldness and courage, gives me the courage to love my own, so I see it as a system of reciprocity. We as black women loving ourselves, gives not only other black women but all women the courage to love theirs.”


Hawanatu Mansaray, Student on Black women’s bodies:

“I feel that our bodies are beautiful. In many ways our bodies are often imitated. Currently, there is a slew of non black women buying body parts that are traditionally associated with black women. That tells me our bodies are ideal.”


Lola Adesanya, Fashion Designer on her body

“I am thin and I am loving it! The most important thing to me is to stay fit by eating healthy and work out so I am healthy and treating my body right! One of my sayings is “You don’t need a fat ass to hold something down.” I am still a black beautiful woman, fat ass or not.”

Check out the photo series for more photos and more from the models at Beyond Classically Beautiful.

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  1. Hi, I am inspired by your images. I would like to know if I could use a likeness of the group photo on a flyer for my women’s group. The group will not benefit financially from the use of the photo and there is no financial gain in the organization of the group. The group is used strictly to create a safe place for women to learn and grow.

    1. Hopefully, you have some time to read the post to see that the images aren’t mine. You should contact the owner who was credited in the article.

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