Inspired by other photo shoots of black women she saw online, nursing student Sameria Gbieor decided to organize one of her own. The 20-year-old gathered together a handful of her friends and contacted Tolulope Gangbo, an up-and-coming photographer, to help bring her vision to life. The result? Breathtaking photos of women celebrating their unique and diverse beauty.
“I was scrolling down my Instagram page one day, and I saw this beautiful picture with four melanin sisters. And I said to myself, ‘I want to do something like this, but with more girls,’” Gbieor, a mother of one, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
The eight young women wore black bras and underwear and served fierce looks. One of the models, Ahnna Anderson, 24, tells Yahoo Lifestyle she decided to participate because she has “always wanted to be in a picture that celebrates black women.”
Gbieor says her inspiration was to highlight all types of beauty. “No matter your size or your color, we are all beautiful. If we weren’t different from everyone else, then we would all be the same, which is kinda boring. Don’t you think?” she asks. “What I wanted to get out there to my dark-skinned sisters is to love yourself. Once you love yourself, amazing things start to happen.”
The photos also wanted to celebrate and empower women with different hair types and styles. Anderson, who sported dreadlocks, adds, “I want people to see the usual ‘outcast’ as beautiful — seeing dark women with natural hair and long twists being seen as beautiful and sexy.”
Gbieor wanted the photo shoot to be body-positive too, with different body types represented. She reached out to various curvy women, but only Mercy Dorbor agreed to take part. “I contacted about four girls about Mercy’s size and they didn’t feel comfortable enough to be in the shoot. But Mercy came through, slayed, and left with confidence,” says Gbieor.
Mercy Dorbor, 19, never hesitated to be a part of the project.
“This photo shoot was something really inspiring for myself, ” Dorbor tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Black women are beautiful in every, shape, color, and size. And it doesn’t matter how big you are or how skinny you are, as long as you feel comfortable with yourself and who you are. All of that doesn’t matter, and people only see the beauty.”
The photos have received praise and admiration online. Says Gbieor, “I am so grateful for all the support and reposts and retweets that these pictures have received. It means a lot to me knowing that people see what I see: eight beautiful, confident, and amazing girls.”