feature: check out this beautiful editorial series shot by atlanta photographer cooper penn, featuring maryse kyelem

February 15, 2016

Atlanta photographer Cooper Penn shot this impressive series with the hopes of presenting images of a beautiful black model in a way that doesn’t rely on exploitation or viewing black bodies through a fetishistic lens, and to raise awareness about the ways in which models of color are commodified in the fashion world. “[Model Maryse Kyelem] is an African Woman with stereotypical African features and because of that, she is often photographed stereotypically[…]Because of this, she is even asked to accentuate her “exoticness” going as far as to be told to, “lose an extra 10-15 pounds (on top of the typical weight loss for white models) so you can look stereotypically malnourished,” Penn tells AFROPUNK.

Kyelem, also based in Atlanta, is represented by Ursula Wiedmann, an agency which Penn describes as being genuinely caring about the well-being and quality representation of their diverse group of models.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

Photography by Cooper Joél Penn @cooperslight
Styling by Shadé Olabisi @lashade_designs
Makeup by Avery Beason @averymua
Clothing by Abbey Glass @abbeyglasstudio

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at