A group of sorority sisters created this #MelaninIllustrated photoshoot when they met for their five-year reunion since graduation. Gorgeous and powerful as it is, it went viral. With the women all wearing swimsuits in their own nude shade, these photographs broke the Internet with black-girl magic and boldly redefined mainstream beauty norms.

Melanin Illustrated – for those who wanted a close up 😉 || #thisistite #melaninillustrated

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According to Glamour, this group of women has met up every five years since graduation. The ‘line sisters’ – as they are known – from part of the ‘2007 Delta Sigma Theta pledge class at Florida A&M University.’ At their most recent reunion trip to Costa Rica, this collective expressed the power and beauty of a group of educated, empowered, confident black women through this shoot.

One sorority member explained:

‘We 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.”‘

According to line sister Jardan Doneghy, it was not easy to find swimsuits in the right nude shades for all the women’s skin tones, and ‘took four months of rigorous searching… 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.’

Jardan further explains: ‘The media has a way of telling us what beauty should be… We say beauty is being confident. Knowing that you are good enough – especially our African-American sisters who may sometimes feel overlooked and underrepresented – that is beautiful in itself.

From the colours of the swimsuits to the empowered poses (as opposed to lying on the sand à la Sports Illustrated), the sisters were deliberate about this shoot, the energy it conveyed and the statement it made.