Photos

These Striking Photos Bring the Phrase ‘Black Girl Magic’ to Life

Take a look at our favorite photos that make you never doubt the phrase, "black girl magic."

Black girl magic is one of the most important phrases of our generation—it denies society's negative stereotypes about black women by declaring that we are even powerful and magical beings who can change the world.


We use the phrase to empower our fellow sistas, to add glimmer to our photos and social media presence, to inspire ourselves while we get ready for the day, to support a black woman when she shines in her professional field or accomplishes an amazing feat.

But what happens when we take this slogan one step further, and try to replicate it into living art? The photography below explores the different sides of black girl magic—from fantastical, dreamy images to traditional African inspired aesthetics to pure magic, afrofuturism and black royalty.

Delphine Diallo

Delphine Diallo's Highness series examines the sensuality of the black female figure, the power of spirituality and healing and the marvel and mystery of masks. In Highness, women's faces are covered with intricately braided masks, designed with African face paint or simply colored with white paint, to create a ghostly effect. The result are secretive, seductive photos that are as haunting as they are harmonious.

Laolu Senbanjo

A photo posted by Laolu (@laolunyc) on
A photo posted by Laolu (@laolunyc) on

Laolu Senbanjo's artform, the Sacred Art of the Ori, is a Yoruba aesthetic of tracing fluid lines, shapes and words on a person's body. He says this method creates a phenomenal moment between artist and muse: through their connection, he is able to conjure up the hidden images within the muse's skin. The muse is transformed into a spiritual being, with captivating messages and symbols displayed on their face and body.

Lisa Farrall

A photo posted by Lisa Farrall (@lisafarrall) on
A photo posted by Lisa Farrall (@lisafarrall) on

Lisa Farrall's Armour Collection became a viral hit this fall, and understandably so. She decorated her models with extravagant African inspired hairdos and earth-toned outfits, bangles and necklaces that posed as decorative pieces of armor against their skin. With their heroic stances and captivating stares, they embody a traditional yet fantastic side of black girl magic.

Meiji Nguyen and Ajok Madel

Ajok Madel. Photo by Meiji Nguyen.

Ajok Madel. Photo by Meiji Nguyen.

Model Ajok Madel looks like she stepped out of a futuristic fairytale in Meiji Nguyen's dreamy photo spread. With silver feathery textures, cotton candy hairstyles and glitter swept across her cheekbones, Model breathes royalty and effervescence into camera.

Island Boi Photography

Joey Rosado, the artist behind Island Boi Photography, captures black women in romantic states inspired by nature: sleeping on a bed of rose petals, decorated in flowers or adorned with glitter. What struck me about his art is his use of lines. The models' cheekbones, collarbones, temples, shoulders and backs are traced with thick, bold lines, accentuating their round curves and sharp features.

Taylor Giavasis and Simone Mariposa

Model Simone Mariposa transforms into an intergalactic goddess for Taylor Giavasis' The Naked Diaries Project. The Naked Diaries Project showcases the beauty of all women and non binary people's bodies: whether it's skinny, fat, scarred; filled with lumps, pimples, moles and more. In these pictures, we are invited to relish in the wonder of Mariposa's body, in all its glitter-filled glory.

Oye Diran

A photo posted by Oye Diran (@oye_diran) on
A photo posted by Oye Diran (@oye_diran) on

Nigerian photographer Oye Diran captures the essence of black and African royalty in his series, Black Monarch. With gold crowns, lace, sheer fabrics and adornments and a dramatic black backdrop, models Cleopatra Roberts and Destiny Ohwawa turn into alluring, powerful queens.

Reign Apiim

Lashaia Artis, known as Reign Apiim (All power is in me) is a soulful, ethereal artist and designer who spreads beauty and light through her work. She has a plethora of photos on her Instagram page, but the ones below are spectacular for her displays of black girl magic around New York City: mainly, in subways. Reign shows that magic can be sparkled in the most overlooked places.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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