Five young women broke the Internet when they shared photos of themselves at the beach recently. Their monochromatic swimsuits set against the seascape background went viral on Twitter, receiving more than 105,000 likes and 33,000 retweets.
Raejeen Walker, 19, Nija Imani, 22, Arianna Morris, 19, Chantal Tharrington, 26, and Khali Brewer, 18, collaborated with aspiring photographer Ly’Kerria Richardson and makeup artist Anasia Blueford for the photo shoot.
Imani tells Yahoo Style, “Rae decided it would be a great idea to get a group of females together to do a shoot that empowered women of color,” she says. “A shoot that showed us being comfortable in our own skin and embracing one another. So that’s just what we did.”
Chocolate makes everything better pic.twitter.com/jgpIiAZJol
— k.h.a.l.i (@KhaliBrewer) July 3, 2017
The women are overwhelmed with the attention their photos have received. “I had no idea that our pictures would actually reach as far as they did,” Imani says. “It felt so unreal — I was so amazed, yet humbled. I was most thankful to have had the opportunity to share our message with thousands. It was truly a remarkable experience.”
Morris, another of the participants, agrees. She tells Yahoo Style that the group of friends hopes to inspire others to embrace their beauty regardless of color. “I feel like we are getting a message across for young black women to love their skin color and not be ashamed. Black girls are beautiful — black girls are smart and they rock,” she says.
Walker shared a behind-the-scenes video from the New Jersey beach where they held the shoot.
— (@raaee_) July 2, 2017
The impeccable photos have caught the attention of the Internet, including rapper Wale.
I run through a wall for y’all .
— Wale (@Wale) July 4, 2017
Brewer says she is happy the photos have gotten so much attention. “People often told me ‘You’re pretty for a black girl’ as if being black is ugly,” Brewer tells Yahoo Style. “This photo shoot truly shows the beauty of being an African-American woman.”
And the Twitterverse is praising the women for their beauty.
I need o get some of my girls together and have a bomb photo shoot like this https://t.co/OvAgsoE0Oo
— Loulou Isnard (@loulou_lovex3) July 5, 2017
turn to Melanin, Chapter 5, Verse Fine. https://t.co/jN1qMgOwhe
— Alternative Demand (@AlterDemand) July 3, 2017
They really can’t, I’m wasting my money even trying. Yas queens https://t.co/u8TYSiQ9b9
— dannelle (@Da_La_Ca) July 4, 2017
Makeup artist Blueford says, “I think it’s a beautiful thing and there’s more to the message. It’s bringing more and more black women, day by day, to learn to love the skin they are in. They’re learning to stand up for their own kind, not only dark skin but all shades of melanin.”