Finally, famous purveyors of bras, underwear, and even pointe shoes seem to be catching on to an obvious fact: What a "nude" shade looks like is different for every woman. The women of Florida A&M University's 2007 Delta Sigma Theta pledge class are the latest to show that the more "nude" options there are in fashion, the more real skin tones are represented accurately and beautifully. Glamour reported on the sorority's stunning reunion photo shoot on the beaches of Costa Rica, and the hashtag the women coined for the photos: #MelaninIllustrated.
The sorority sisters got together in Costa Rica's Guanacaste region for a 10 year reunion, and the idea for the photo shoot — basically the Sports Illustrated centerfold of our dreams — began after a lot of research. In fact, Delta Sigma Theta line sister Jardan Doneghy told Glamour that they spent four months searching for swimsuits.
"We had a group chat where we would share swimsuits to help each other out," she explained. "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. 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."
We're not that surprised that the resulting photos went viral; after all, they're gorgeous, and they make a powerful statement about how sadly homogenous media representation of women's bodies still is. Plus, the photos are a representation of women of color who are successful leaders, creatives, parents, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on — which is also vastly underrepresented in the media at large. Doneghy explained to Glamour that she and her sorority sisters had "no idea this would go viral... 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.'"
Here's hoping this shoot is just the beginning of #MelaninIllustrated photos taking the internet — and the magazines — by storm.
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