A Stroke of Beauty: Zahira Kelly’s Black Goddesses

Growing up, a vast majority of the Disney princesses and female icons we admired lacked one major component that was so critical to our identities. The images of the women we were supposed to glorify simply didn’t resemble us. They didn’t have curly hair or brown skin, making it unrealistic and difficult to relate to the ladies we were told were queens.

Thankfully, major broadcasting networks and production studios have since developed movies, literature, and similar media that are more reflective of the diversity prevalent in not just our nation, but the world. One artist in particular is further filling this void by creating her own visions of beauty with her intoxicatingly vibrant paintings.

“My visual art is dedicated to highlighting AfroLatina and Women of Color’s beauty and very much tied to my writing.”

Self proclaimed, “Mami, writer, artist, mujerista, award-winning sociocultural critic, and speaker,” Zahira Kelly is bringing every melanin princess’ dreams to life.

“In my images I reexamine my bicultural upbringing, Indigenous displacement and neocolonial marginalized womanhood as well as concepts of fragility historically denied to lower class women of Afro-Descent. In my retro pinup inspired art I materialize women rendered invisible by an era and society that only prized middle to upper class white womanhood and beauty as a paragon of femininity.”

Her work is real and authentic –no frills bad-assness that’s so characteristic of black and brown culture. Beyond painting, Zahira emphasizes the power of her identity as a woman of color, and others, in an intimate advice column at TheNewInquiry.com as well as her own blog titled, Bad-Dominicana. 

If these images don’t remind you that what you see in the mirror is a Goddess, I don’t know what will!

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