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  • Writer's pictureSelima Smith-Dell

Part III: An Ode to Black Princesses

This photo series is an ode to Black princesses everywhere. We are ethereal. We are elegant. We are beauty. We are grace.

To all who lived before. To all who are currently living. And to all who have yet to live.

This is for you. I see you. I am you. You are me. Together we are we.

I am grateful everyday I am a Black woman.

The reason I wanted to do this princess, fairy, queen, warrior themed shoot became more and more apparent during the preparation phase of this photo series journey. As I was gathering pictures on Pinterest as inspiration for this theme I could find very few photos with Black women portrayed as fairies, princesses, and queens. But the photoshoots of White women existing in the fantastical realms were truly endless. And so it became evident to me that not only did I dream of doing a princess, fairy themed shoot with iconic photographer and my dear friend, Olivia Edvalson for us but also that it was necessary for me to do it for other Black women and girls like me who are currently living and have yet to live. The world needs more images out there of Black women as princesses, queens, fairies and warriors. Black women belong in fantastical and fairytale realms as well.

Growing up the only Black princess I saw portrayed in film was Brandy in the remake of Cinderella. That film meant so much to me. Not only to see Brandy, a beautiful Black woman as a princess but also to see, Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother and Paolo Montalban as the prince. Three amazing people of color stood before me on the screen. Seeing this representation and diversity made me feel like I too could be a fairy or a princess and gave me a new sense of belonging. I remember sitting in the theater and watching Princess in the Frog and experiencing the wonder of Princess Tiana, another Black Princess. Even as an adult I could feel how it was changing and shifting me. Seeing all the young Black girls in the theater squealing in their Tiana costumes was life changing. Representation is so necessary. Princesses and fairies come in all shapes, sizes, genders and colors and I want to be part of the change of creating images that capture the beauty, royalty, and elegance of Black women.

At first I was disappointed by the lack of images out there with Black women portrayed as royalty but I didn't sit in that disappointment for long. I realized that this passion project now had a meaning and a purpose. I was deciding to become part of the change I wanted to see in the fairytale world. If these images Olivia and I created together can allow for one more Black child or adult to feel seen and heard in their own fantastical truth than I have done my job and my heart is happy. I'm excited that these images now exist for when a Black woman or girl is creating a Pinterest Board for inspiration for their fairytale shoot and come across these images and feel more inspired to create a fantasy world of their own.

Thanks for stopping by for Part III of this photo series created by me and Olivia Edvalson. I hope you've been enjoying the journey thus far. We've got one more part to go. Sending you all love and hoping that in the days to come we only see more and more representation of the beautiful diversity that exists on this planet and beyond.

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