Back in September the New York Times published a review of Viola Davis’ new show, “How to Get Away With Murder,” that was less than flattering to say the least. Rather than focus solely on the television program, the writer described Shonda Rhimes an “angry black woman” and referred to the beautiful and talented Viola Davis as “less classically beautiful” than her lighter skinned peers in the acting world.
Now this is familiar territory, nothing new for the black woman, especially in this day and age. From major fashion publications blatantly showcasing white models in blackface to a popular radio personality referring to young black sports phenoms as Nappy Headed Hoes, black women remain a target for those who hold dear to the European standard of beauty.
Recently journalist and fashion blogger Abi Ishola posted a photo of herself to Twitter with the trending hashtag #lessclassicallybeautiful—a reclamation of how Stanley described the show’s star, Viola Davis.
“But for some reason, it felt wrong,” Ishola said of posting the photo. “I couldn’t settle on the idea of claiming that label. So I decided to think of a new label that speaks to the true beauty of black women. The first thing that came to mind was Beyond Classically Beautiful. In my mind it’s the best way to shake the idea of being ‘less’ anything. We are not less than. Black beauty goes beyond any label or word anyone can drum up.”
And that brings us to her photo story which we have to admit is truly inspiring and a much needed anecdote in our society. Below, see a selection of Ishola’s Beyond Classically Beautiful series, shot by Kunle Ayodeji—and then check out the full series here.
Beyond Clasically Beautiful: A Photo Storyby