Open almost any book of fairytales and you're likely to find a rather whitewashed world. There's the young princess with skin as white as snow, the orphaned blonde haired and blue eyed girl who becomes a princess with the help of a glass slipper, and the long-haired European princess trapped in a tower to name only a few. For little girls whose skin is naturally rich in melanin, the seemingly vanilla worlds of fairytales can sometimes seem far away. To inspire more girls around the world to start seeing themselves as regal princesses, hairstylist and creative director LaChanda Gatson created a stunning African-American Princess photo series highlighting black girl magic and African culture.
"This is my passion project that I am absolutely in love with," Gatson tells Romper of her African-American Princess series. "These princesses are some of my favorites, reimagined."
To bring her vision to life, Gatson teamed up with Regis and Kahran Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography in Atlanta, Georgia. Together they transformed 14 beautiful girls into proud regal princesses. "These special chocolate blend princess are everything I would have loved to see growing up," Gatson tells Romper. "They stand proudly in the gap of the lack of representatives. They are here to show diversity in fantasy and imagination."
In sharing the series on Facebook, the Bethencourts summarized the series' mission as "redefining and reimagining the traditional princess with our own dash of style, culture, and swag." Can you say, mission accomplished?
On the left, model Messiah Askew stuns in a look designed by Haley Jo Weinberg that appears to have been inspired by Pocahontas. A crown from Debby Harper of Mimsy Crowns, and a necklace, earrings, and bracelet from Trufacebygrace complete the look.
On the right, young Jordyn Curlett looks regal in a full feathered skirt from designer Tanya Jenkins, a crown from Copper Signatures by Diedre Hardin, hair accessories from Nubian Decor, and props from Reina Africana.
Nine-year-old Taylor Lia models a re-envisioned take on Princess Jasmine in pants and a top from designer Alicia Ivy White. Hair accessories from France Luxe, an ear cuff from Culture Cross Jewelry, and a ring, bracelet, and crown chain from Kendis Kloset complete the look.
To the right, model Celai West strikes a pose in a Cinderella-esque gown from designer Juno Fashion House. Hairpins from France Luxe, earrings from Ivan Bitton Style House, a necklace from Reina Africana, and a choker from Nubian Decor complete the look.
Model Alexis Wanguhu poses in a reimagined take on Snow White that features a crown designed by Debby Harper of Mimsy Crowns, a collar from Copper Signatures by Diedre Hardin, and a dress from designer Haley Jo Weinberg.
Model, actress, and pianist Nyla Cyprian brings a new inspired take on the Polynesian princess Moana in a banded top and full skirt from designer Tanya Jenkins. A crown from Object & Dawn and a necklace and bracelet from Kendis Kloset complete the look.
Cassidey Fralin models a stunning gown from designer Tanya Jenkins that takes Tiana the Frog Princess to an elevated level of glamour. A necklace from Trufacebygrace, a crown from Diedre Hardin's Copper Signatures, a bracelet from Reina Africana, and hair accessories from Nubian Decor complete the look.
Kheris Rogers gives us Belle vibes in a gown designed by Juno Fashion House. Hair accessories from France Luxe, a chocker from Ekocreashunz, and a crown, necklace, bracelet, earrings, and rings from Kendis Kloset complete this beautifully reimagined princess look.
If you're getting major Ariel vibes from 13-year-old model Rihley Sims, you're not the only one. The young model poses as a reimagined ocean princess in a dress from designer Melissa A. Mitchell, a show-stopping necklace from Rebel Heart, a crown from Scarlet Harlow, and hair accessories from Nubian Decor.
On the right, Zaria Amiyah models a custom gown from designer Kaela Kay, and a gold crown and accessories from Copper Signatures by Deidre Hardin. Makeup artistry was provided for all girls by Chabrea Martin and Keisha Tate. On set styling provided by Yvonne Mwazo with assistant stylist Bebe Couri.
But along with infusing more diversity and representation into the world of fairytale princesses, Gatson tells Romper that above all she hopes her African-American Princess series inspires. "I hope to inspire girls around the world," she says, "to dream big and know dreams really do come true."