Ryan Wimsatt is an 18 year-old from Los Angeles and is currently attending Stanford University with an emphasis on economics and photography. Ryan hopes to marry the two fields by pursuing a career in media and marketing and connecting with audiences in creative ways.
Ryan is passionate about photography and fashion. He is a director and editorial photographer for Stanford University’s fashion and culture magazine, Mint Magazine, a concert photographer, and a model. He hopes to turn his photography platform, ROWLABS into a fashion brand and build a company for men’s fashion and culture in the future.
Enjoy his piece “Black Femme Fatale” from his ROWLABS platform and be sure to stay connected @rowimsatt.
Black women…Black women…Black women… Don’t let anybody tell you anything that doesn’t go along these lines: your worth is unchallenged, your presence is a blessing, your impact is monumental, your beauty is incalculable, and your mind is unmatched. Walk through the world like you own it, because it is yours.
Black women…Black women…Black women, it isn’t a matter of if you shine like the moonlight on the ocean’s surface, not a matter of if you move with the power and grace of the open sea, not a matter of if you think in dimensions and angles like sea salt crystals. You DO…and look to the ocean as a mirror to the grandeur that is you and your place in this world.
Black women…Black women…Black women… a queen sees her power, sees her beauty, sees her accomplishments, sees her troubles, sees her downfalls, sees her mistakes. But in the end, she is a queen and always will be queen…You are all queens.
Living in the shadow of 2017 and looking at 2018 with wide eyes, I am witnessing a progressive shift in our culture. This country is transitioning into a time of freedom in individualism. We are breaking and bending beauty standards, gender roles, sexuality norms, career status quos, and political stances at magnitudes that far outmatch anything we have seen before. Yes, we have had a rough political climate this year (sigh), however, I still see a country moving forward. Times are changing. It is refreshing to see people live more authentic lives and within the comfort of a sense of mutual respect, almost as if there is an unsaid “let people live” rule. We are beginning to jump over societal hurdles to experience everyone for who they are and celebrate what we all bring to our communities in an attitude of embrace and acceptance.
Yet, Black Americans have always had to self-proclaim what we bring to our communities; it has not so easily been recognized outright by our countryman. Hundreds of years of people telling us we are nothing, less than human, animal, lazy, stupid, takes a toll on our mental image of ourselves. And as a result, we are the only group of people who had a history of life on our own, then have our entire existence, stripped away and rewritten, then rebuild it almost completely from scratch just to endure a racial monster that has cost Black Americans immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering. We feverishly push the narrative that Black Americans are powerful, smart, beautiful, valuable people and that this is, was, and always will be reality whilst continuing to convince ourselves of this truth, too.
I am a fashion photographer and I have kept a close eye on trends, advertising campaigns, and the overall industrial climate. I observe the same transition to acceptance of authenticity in the industry just as I see in the nation. As a black man, I have had my eyes peeled for a specific kind of change; black representation. Yes, black bodies, black stories, black money, black music is more apparent in our world. I can walk into a Target, an Old Navy or H&M store and see a beautiful black woman lining the walls and billboards to show the firm’s “diversity.” While all progress is necessary, this profit-oriented method of tokenism is not going far enough to radically rearrange the world’s perspective on black beauty. Black women in the beauty industry have to fall within specific standards that are much more rigorous and strained than that of their white counterparts. Black models often consist of beautiful women indeed, however all usually display extreme phenotypes that only come from the acute possibilities our gene pools can produce. Companies are hyper-selective about what “black” they want to advertise, which is the type of black that is exclusive to a small amount of people. All in all, this unauthentic corporate participation in black inclusion is somewhat of a performance and it fails to convince me that corporate America believes black women are worthwhile.
This is why my campaign for 2018 focuses on black women “Black Femme Fatale.” Beautiful, smart, strong, compassionate, graceful black women are my reality. I witness it in my family, my friends, and now my peers attending Stanford University. I am surrounded by them and I wish to celebrate black women for what they offer to our culture. The world, though moving in the right direction, fails to recognize beauty outside the lines of American Eurocentric ideology. But regardless if the world cares about how they portray black women, I do. And I’m taking this task into my own hands and focus on highlighting black women to show them their value, through photo stories. I conducted a photo series of a few of my sisters at Stanford University to start my project to show the world what my reality is: black women are excellent. And throughout the year, I will continue capturing their essences as an attempt to highlight their value through my lens. 2018 is the year of the black woman.
To see my growing collection, search #BlackFemmeFatales on Instagram
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