The 8th Annual Naturalista Photoshoot – Black Is Beautiful

By Carla Thomas

Now entering our eighth year, the Naturalista Photoshoot is a much-anticipated event highlighting African-American women and girls, who have proudly embraced the natural hairstyle.

The women are free to wear their hair in their style of choice; braids, locs, twists, afro, wraps or the much-needed protective style of natural-styled wigs . . . all expressions are accepted in this space.

This year our declaration is “Black Is Beautiful” and features the women dressed in black against a sienna-colored backdrop.

“Black Is Beautiful,” a movement that emerged in the 60’s, encouraged Black men and women to embrace their skin tones, facial features and natural hair as acceptable. For Black women specifically, the movement stated it is ok to push back against European beauty standards and proudly wear our natural hair in a mainstream way.

The Naturalista photoshoot highlights Black women who have chosen to walk away from Western beauty standards.

Several of this year’s participants agreed to share their thoughts on what “Black Is Beautiful” …. the beauty of blackness, means to them.

“I love being black because of the richness of our history. Our ability to overcome and endure past and current struggles demonstrates our resilience. I love how my hair can stand up to gravity. I love how my skin glows in the sun! We are a beautiful, creative, and diverse people that contribute so much to the world (art, music, agriculture, architecture, science, culture, athletics) the list goes on and on. How boring and bland would the world be without us?                                                                                                  ~ Dorothy Gray

“I am not defined by mainstream’s idea of what is beautiful. I choose to wear a headwrap as an act of resistance, a visible form of freedom. I am beautiful because my anthem is worthy to be heard.”              ~ Sandra Gill

“The beauty of blackness comes from a divine connection to all that is abundant, encapsulating grace, and originally designed. And that beauty is blackness clothed in the aura of Black woman. In the words of Angela Davis, we must talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”

~ Patrice McClellan, EdD

“Black is strength, sophistication, and status. Black is a color of many insights absorbed through unique perspectives.  Black is Beauty. Black Beauty is bringing your whole self to whatever you do.”

~ Tamme Smith

“Black is beautiful; we all come in different shades of melanin skin colors to highlight our beauty and attributes. I define the beauty of blackness as bold, fierce, togetherness, queens of the Nile and beautiful. To be an individual with your own identity and being original and authentic, never duplicated. Finally, to be a leader and empower other women and being creative with your own ideas.”

~Donnetta Carter BKA “The Social Butterfly”

In the words of Hoyt Fuller, “Across this country, young black men and women have been infected with a fever of affirmation. They are saying, ‘We are black and beautiful.”