A few months ago, in the wake of Alessandra Stanley’s tone-deaf and racist New York Times review of Shonda Rhimes’ How to Get Away With Murder, 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 says 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.”
Below, see a selection of Ishola’s Beyond Classically Beautiful series, shot by Kunle Ayodeji—and then check out the full series here.