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Girls & Women

These Sorority Sisters Created a ‘Melanin Illustrated’ Photo Shoot and It’s Beautiful


Forget the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, ladies and gentleman.

This ‘Melanin Illustrated’ photo shoot by a group of sorority sisters on vacation is all of the swimsuit fashion the internet needs right now.

The women of Florida A&M’s Delta Sigma Theta sorority, class of 2008, orchestrated a photoshoot in Costa Rica to celebrate their 10-year anniversary of their graduation. And the photos are remarkable.

According to the Huffington Post, each day of the trip coordinated with a theme, and sorority member Melissa Butler came up with the idea for a ‘Melanin Illustrated’ photo shoot in which the women wear nude-colored swimsuits to celebrate black girl magic.

Read More: Meet the First African American Woman to Go into Space

“We really didn’t know when or where the photo would take place, but we knew we’d be ready when the perfect photo op happened,” Jardan Doneghy told Huffington Post.  “We didn’t want to do the typical on-the-sand beach photo, so when we saw those rocks, we knew we had the perfect setup! They were actually super sharp and slippery so it was a bit dangerous but worth it in the end!”

Proceeds to #SendNudes  #MelaninIllustrated #TITE56 #ThisIsTITE #CostaRica #BADST #FAMU

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The group of 28 women included Doneghy, a brand communications manager living in Atlanta, Shardia Washington, an NFL cheerleader, and Butler, the owner of the makeup line The Lip Bar, which makes lipsticks and cosmetics in a wide range of colors and skin tones, and when they posted the photos to their social media accounts, their followers went crazy.

“I think the fact that this went viral is proof that it’s not common that you see such a large group of REAL women ― mothers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, educated black women, saying ‘This is what beautiful is,’” she said. “It is bringing your personal best to the table ― that is beauty to us. It is not a way of saying we are better than any other group of people, it’s an empowerment for all women to embrace and love themselves.”

TITE QUEENS. || #thisistite

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The photos quickly went viral, with internet users celebrating the women’s beauty and confidence.

Doneghy said the photos helped show how many different forms of beauty there are in the world.

“The media, and especially social media, have a way of telling us what beauty should be,” she said. “We say, beauty is being confident that you are good enough, and that is beautiful in itself. We represent various shades and sizes and want to send a larger message of self-love, especially to our African American sisters who may sometimes feel overlooked and underrepresented.”