“I was into hour 2 of a 3 hour training call with my boss and I took a minute to briefly scroll through social media and this was the first image I saw on my feed. I silently screamed for about 30 seconds until I got the good sense to press mute. I was stunned that I looked so beautiful. I typically describe myself as cute, but I felt absolutely beautiful, regal, and yet, genuinely myself.”
~ Dominique C.
“First of all, I gasped because I could not believe the images were me. I saw a beautiful woman who for so many years struggled with whether I was ‘pretty’, I looked at those images and saw a beauty I always wanted to be. I felt beautiful and knew that others would see the beauty of the images.”
~ Kendra B.
“I felt like something deep inside of me pushed through to the surface. That fierce woman began to shine through! We all have that queen inside of us but we don’t always see it. Others do see it and they are often uncomfortable with what they see in us. That is why they try to discourage, disrespect and marginalize us. I’m going to put that photo on my vision board to remind me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made! I want that queen to always shine through! I felt strong, powerful and confident. I felt like a queen! When I put on my mother’s dress (she passed away 3 years ago), I knew I was nailing it! It was a tribute to her- the original Diva. I loved it!”
~ Sonya S.
~ Andrea C.
“I saw a woman with self-confidence and strength. The image empowered me to be my authentic self. I realized that this image of a beautiful brown girl with a fierce expression and big curly hair was me. I wasn’t covered in a bunch of makeup, I didn’t have on glamorous clothes, and I wasn’t sitting in some elaborate editorial pose. I was simply breathing and looking ahead, and yet I looked so peaceful, poised, and strong. That empowered me to continuously approach life in the same manner: just be my authentic self, breathe, and look forward.”
~ Jarrai S.
“I saw black excellence. I saw a woman with an equal balance of sexy and elegance. I was overwhelmed with amazement. Also, I was proud of myself for showing a different side of me.”
~ Tiffany S.
“Not only was I speechless. But, I was so honored to be a part of such a beautiful piece of work. Wearing the cameo earrings my mother gave me when I was in college made it such a memorable moment, that I will forever treasure. The photo of me with the veil, all I could think was, “Was I transformed into a Black MaDonna?””
~ Doña M.
“I saw a beautiful black woman with an intense presence…and I was proud that she was me. My confidence fails me all too often than I’d really like to admit. So seeing the visual representation of how I present to the world, when I often don’t feel like that, was a powerful reminder to keep my head up. I felt strong, powerful, and beautiful through it all.”
~ Shanice M.
“Art. It reminded me of those high fashion editorials in magazines. It took my breath away, honestly. I love my natural hair but I tend to have it pinned or pulled back. To see it in all its big and kinky glory was a great reminder that this is beautiful too!”
~ Christina H.
~ Comelia S.
“I saw a queen. The music, the calm vibe in the room, the studio decor, the time in the makeup chair, the overall pride in taking part of an experience with, for, and by black women, was just fabulous.”
~ Monica O.
“When I first saw my images, I saw a woman whose self-built walls were suddenly transparent; a woman fully exposed. I felt exposed and vulnerable, which are feelings I am not used to experiencing in “public” outside of the confines of my inner world. One of the great things about Profile Noire, to me, is that the process is meant to reveal the true essence of the woman at the moment of her sitting. At the time, I was going through a challenging period of self-doubt and anxiety over the direction in which my life was heading – both personally and professionally. So, honestly, I felt uncomfortable, tense and anxious throughout the process, and I think the images display that – a revelation of the essence of me in that moment.”
~ Ria W.
“Magic. I felt, for the first time in a long time, beautiful.”
~ Jasmine C.
“I saw a beautiful black woman that gave off a slightly mysterious vibe.”
~ LeAnn H.
“What I saw was natural beauty. The beauty of color, the ancestral pride, royalty, strong roots, and being unapologetic in your blackness, a black queen. I was honored to be part of this amazing project with so many inspiring and unique women, highlighting the beauty of the many shades of black, the celebration of our womanhood, grace and strength.”
~ Navisa H.
“I saw strength. I was really amazed at what was captured. They were beyond my expectations.”
~ Danielle B.
“Me. It’s a more raw image of me than I’m used to seeing, hair back, shoulders out, nude make-up. Vulnerable. I typically wear my hair differently. It’s usually big, or long, or braided. My portrait session was scheduled for a day after I returned from vacation, so I still had my hair in a bun/ponytail/a mess. My photos are not the image of me that I usually present to the world. I’ve had several people say, “That doesn’t look like you” – which I like. Through a little self-work (and therapy), I’m learning to be less guarded and sharing more of myself. These images make me feel authentic.”
~ Andrea H.
“Seeing my images for the first time made me feel validated. Growing up with nicknames like Tweety Bird and Olive Oil gave me a lackluster self-image. I adored Whitney Houston and Diana Ross — small packages with enormous talents. When I stared at my images I saw every learned imperfection as perfectly striking. I own my beauty!
~ Lachelle R.
~ Krystle L.
~ Shelia P.
“A beautiful Black woman. Amazing. I felt like my beauty was not only captured, but celebrated. And, that felt good. Being a Black woman living in a white dominant culture that venerates European standards of beauty, sisters like me are all too rarely in community with each other, praising each other’s physical and inner beauty and spirit. And, that’s exactly what we did throughout the process – from makeup, posing, to hugging each other goodbye.”
~ Temi B.
“I didn’t see the flaws that I normally see in my profile. I saw evolution of self love.”
~ Tyann D.
~ Lakeila S.
~ Tiffany C.
“Me. A young woman who is beginning to unapologetically take up space. Proud. When people know my story, they tell me to write a book! I even jokingly gave the rights to my life story to a former co-worker. I’ve been through a lot in my short years, and maintaining my goodness and light has kept me. I know whose I am and believe there is purpose in me being here. Karma never forgets an address and integrity expresses itself with and without an audience. Show up as your best self as much as you can! Assured. I was in good hands (thank you Rhonisha!) and my mind, body, and spirit were connected. I showed up to show out! haha”
~ Jasmine D.
“Unrealized power. Proud and honored. I felt like I was seen and desired the same for other black women.”
~ Amber I.
“I saw a beautiful reflection of an evolving woman. It’s amazing how a single photo can possess so many layers. All three photos were just so multi-dimensional and I saw myself as such: not flat, but beautifully complex. After I jumped out of my skin then back in again, I felt proud of myself, honestly. Proud that I didn’t have to try very hard and yet something amazing happened. Rhonisha has taken photos of me before, all at very pivotal moments in my life. Whether with family, or celebrating a new birthday milestone, what I love about her work is that she encourages you to just be…to really embrace who you are. The camera tells no lie when she’s behind it. It’s funny A few times I felt myself wondering what my pictures would look like. Then quickly after I let go and rode the wind because I trusted her as an artist and myself as a full person. Being a part of this collection truly is a defining moment in history and I’m thankful that I was able to see myself in truth and light. I went through a range of emotions, similarly all the same emotions that matched the three words I submitted earlier. Intuitive, Creative and Empower(ed). Truly full circle. Yeah, such a dope project!”
~ Tracey C.
~ Candice M.
“I saw the beauty of blackness, raw & uncut. I felt validated and affirmed. I felt pretty and adored and well loved.”
~ Iyalosa Osunyemi Akalatunde
~ Patricia P.
~ Margaret F.
~ Lauryn P.
“When I saw my photo I thought I looked strong and confident. I loved how regal my images looked. I thought about how my grand daughter will look back and have this great memory of me.”
~ Jehan D.
“I saw the native in me. That is the Native American in me! I have known for years that my family history dates back to the Native Americans. To be specific back to the Cherokee Indians. I instantly thought that I looked like a Native American women in these photographs.”
~ Angela S.
~ Kaylisha V.
“I saw a beautiful woman, who finally knows her worth! Beautiful. Since I was a little girl I struggled with being beautiful. People would always tell me I was, but when I looked in the mirror all I saw was an ugly duckling. A super skinny girl with a big head and big hair to match. In the words of TLC, I felt so unpretty. This continued into adulthood until I came into relationship with Jesus. Day by day he’s loved on me unconditionally and I now look in the mirror and see the woman He sees staring back at me. I still struggle but I have a Daddy that reminds me every day that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. He’s given me a crown of beauty for ashes.”
~ Alkeyvia W.
“I saw ME. I saw my journey of self-discovery and love and I was so pleased. I felt beautiful, I felt alive, and I felt a little shocked. I honestly couldn’t believe that I could look that way. I always thought of myself as cute or pretty but seeing those photos just showed me another dimension of myself. I felt nervous and determined. I had been putting a “photoshoot” off for so long because I just didn’t feel “ready”. I wanted my body a certain way, my hair a certain way, and my beauty to be portrayed a certain way. But I started this journey of self-love and acceptance and part of that was acknowledging that the work I was doing on the journey was just as important as the result. These photos came right in the middle of that journey when I still wasn’t at goal but I wanted to celebrate the progress that I’d made.”
~ Brittany M.
“I saw glimpses of my parents, my sister and my ancestors. Wow — family genes are SO powerful! I felt as if butterflies were in my belly. Not from being nervous but from my entire body smiling from the inside and out.”
~ Tracie A.
~ Cortavia F.
~ Michelle A.
“I saw a strong woman. I could not believe it was me! I felt ‘natural.'”
~ Nadine E.
“When I saw my images for the first time, I saw the strength, beauty, and intelligence of all of my ancestors reflecting back to me. I saw the sacrifices that my ancestors made for me to be the woman of color I am today. When I saw my images for the first time, I felt proud of the project that Rhonisha allowed me to be a part of and I felt absolutely beautiful.”
~ Daphne K.
“When I went through the process of having my portrait made I felt powerful, radiant and cherished. For the first time in a long time I felt seen, the depth of my potential realized.”
~ Lisa W.
“A phenomenal woman of beauty. I was in awe, especially since I am of a darker hue.”
~ LaSonya C.
“At this time of my life, I am constantly mindful of and grateful for my parents, family, ancestors, and friends who have supported and helped shape me. They led to my acceptance of having this regal moment. Taken aback and pleased. It’s revelatory to see yourself in a special moment like this.”
~ Sharon A.
“I saw a woman I didn’t think I had seen in a while. Confident, beautiful and bold. Jaw dropped. It was inspiring. Participating in this project actually inspired myself to be more confident, daring and to step outside of my comfort zone. I felt like royalty!”
~ Karlyn B.
“When I saw the image, specifically my profile photo, I saw all that was imperfect was perfectly me. I admired myself at that point. I also saw the transition happening in my life. I had recently found out I was pregnant and only my husband and I knew. In the photos, I saw how warm I was. I saw “that” glow. I saw how grateful I was for this next chapter in my life. I felt blessed. My heart was full.”
~ Mia D.
~ Teree H.
~ Stephanie S.
~ Hilari Y.
“When I saw my portrait for the first time, my breath was taken away. I couldn’t believe how powerful, strong and gentle I looked. I was blessed that the vision I had of taking a head-shot only photo captured me without assets of my body needed to dominate the photo. It’s something I want my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to remember me by.
Seeing my images for the first time made me feel empowered and confident to be young and black in America.”
~ Sheri C.
“When I first saw the photos, I thought “That is not me. Wait, is that me? Wow, that IS me!!!” I saw a different version of myself, a more sensual version. The photos made me feel powerful and sensual.”
~ Ramona L.