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#FiftyShadesofBlack – ‘Ugly’, ‘Too Skinny’, ‘Alien’, ‘Inferior’! Beverly Naya Takes on Inner Beauty with Stirring Campaign



Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015001

Last year, Nollywood actress Beverly Naya started a campaign titled #FiftyShadesofBlack to inspire young black girls to love their skin tone and to teach them about self love and acceptance. In the first campaign for the movement, her fellow Nollywood starlets like Osas Ighodaro, Isi Atagamen, Vimbai Mutinhiri and more spoke up and shared what their definition of beauty was. View it here if you missed it.

Now, she is preaching the gospel of self love and acceptance with another campaign featuring 8 ladies of different shapes, sizes, complexions and ages who have written down the negative adjectives people have called them in the past; and on another sheet, the positive adjectives they associate themselves with.

Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015010

This campaign, shot by Yetunde Babaeko, was aimed at helping the ladies connect with the process of acceptance, and helping them experience joy after realizing how much they have accomplished.

Read Beverly’s personal note on the campaign;

Sometime mid last year I decided to start a campaign called #FiftyShadesOfBlack. The original purpose of the campaign was to encourage women and young girls to see beauty in all shades of black because there is no hierarchy of beauty determined by complexion in my opinion. I began to think deeply about how I could strengthen this campaign and with each day on this journey, I came to realise that black beauty equates to much more than what we see on the outside, it starts from within. I thought to myself, if I’m able to inspire young girls, even if its just one to love themselves from within then in turn they will teach others. The campaign has now evolved into something deeper, something that is not only befitting of young girls out there but it has taught me how to accept myself, flaws and all. #FiftyShadesOfBlack is an empowering campaign that teaches young girls about self esteem, self worth, self confidence and self love because possessing these four qualities will lead to stronger secure women who see beauty for much more than what the media portrays.

I partnered with Dark & Lovely earlier in the year for a photoshoot with eight beautiful females of different shapes, sizes, complexions and ages. I wanted this to be more than just a photoshoot for them, but an impactful and long lasting experience so I asked four inspiring women in the entertainment industry to stop by and mentor our girls for the day. Special thank you to Diana Yekinni, Liz Awoliyi, Osas Ighodaro and Lola Maja for being so vulnerable with the girls which allowed us all to connect with their stories in unimaginable ways. I also asked our ladies to write down negative adjectives that people have called them in the past and on another sheet of paper, positive adjectives that they feel now, this was to help the ladies connect deeply with the process and experience joy after realizing how much they have overcome to get to where they are today.

This campaign is very dear to me because in as much as it has helped other girls love themselves more, it has helped me understand myself and flaws a little better. Oprah Winfrey once said that when you inspire other people, you inspire yourself. I really couldn’t agree with her more and for that very reason I’m looking forward to mentoring more girls in the near future. All black is beautiful, lets continue to preach this to the world.

View the campaign images;

Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015013 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015002 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015004 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015003 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015006 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015005 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015008 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015007 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015009 Beverly Naya Fifty Shades of Black - Bellanaija - June2015011

Watch the Behind-The-Scenes video below;

Photo Credit
Photography: Yetunde Babaeko (Camera Studios) (Instagram: @YetundeBabaeko)
Hair: Dark And Lovely (Instagram: @DarkandLovelyNG)
Makeup: Dorcas & Remi for Maybelline (Instagram: @MaybellineNYNG)
Concept: Fifty Shades of Black (Instagram- @FiftyShadesOf_Black)

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at) or style(at) | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle


  1. polypoly

    June 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    *cough cough* Hey Bev!! nice campaign and great message but I am afraid something is missing. you wanna do a campaign on blackness but chose to lighten and airbrush them pics……gurrllllllllll, am gonna give u a #sideEye

    the girls that you claim are dark skin are not what society will classify as dark skin. try again

    • nk

      June 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      really? all those dark skin ladies are not dark skin? ok ooo *continue* mschewwww

    • Tunmi

      June 23, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      I’ll give you the airbrushing but these are the complexions. I get the you’re looking for the the Odunayo’s complexion on Battabox (and that’s fair) but these women’s complexion are valid. So there is a case to be made for more representation and less airbrushing

  2. A Real Nigerian

    June 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    How exactly does “ebony” fit in the same class with “I am a blessing”, “Unique”, “Spectacular”, “Flawless”, and “Confident”??

  3. peopleoftheworld

    June 23, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    This is Damilola Onafuwa’s concept. The guy is doing a really good job. I like the message but the entire concept is by the Dammie guy standing up for Albinos.

  4. edie

    June 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    beautiful ladies, nice concept but must it under this name..the person that brought us fifty shades of grey brought it without any known precedent ryt.? if they spent one more hour the inspiration for a grea name to this movement would have popped up…anyhow keep up the good work, nothing is as attractive as a confident woman

  5. jenniferAk

    June 23, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Nice one, beautiful ladies..

  6. Hmmm

    June 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Good idea to create awareness, but these models have been made up so much that all I see is airbrushes and foundation at work. Let’s be real for once, pose without make up on, pose in your natural state. I know someone who was verbally attacked at an interview in a Nigerian bank (I won’t mention their name) because she went there without a shade of make up. Her looks were called to question and she was later dropped from the recruitment process after scaling through three stages. And then a woman on the panel went as far as saying another girl would have been considered a better option for the job if she had make up on and was looking cheerful. We have succeeded in defining a lot of things with outer beauty and not what is on the inside.

    Personally I have never liked taking photos from my secondary school days because “prettier” classmates said I was too “black” and not so pretty. It did a number on my self esteem for a while and all through Uni I made sure to kickass at books so no one would worry about my looks. The world has drifted from the true standards of what it means to be human, and it is left to campaigns such as this one to do the little that can be done to correct some of these wrong notions about what makes one beautiful.

    Kudos to Beverly Naya though. More power to you.

  7. TFS

    June 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Yeah! Skinny and Priceless jewel joor.

  8. Somto

    June 23, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Nigerians will always criticize, Beverly Makes a lot of sense because some many of us need encouraging and empowering words. The way some of us behave and the choices we make in life shows that we lack self love and confidence. These words spoke to me, for regardless of my complexion, I am a blessing,Uniquely and Spectacularly made by God and so I hold my head up and Confidently achieve and claim what my Creator has placed in my path irrespective of what labels, Dudu,Alien,Ugly,Chubby etc soceity calls me. Thank-you Beverly for this write up. More grease to your elbow.

  9. Bey

    June 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    All these black girls be consoling urselves lol

    • kelly

      June 23, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Your comment is very stupid.

    • oma

      June 24, 2015 at 2:26 am

      You, my dear are a first class douche, believe guy or girl you’ll have darker skinned kids, lets see what you’d do with their self confidence then

  10. Unsocial Butterfly

    June 23, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Good job Beverly. I love this path that you have chosen to remind young girls and women of the need to love oneself. I pray this campaign will touch more people in Jesus’ Name. Amen!

  11. EllesarisEllendil

    June 23, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    1. Simply Priceless

    2. I am Unique

    3. I am A Blessing

    4. Unique E.t.c

    As for the rest, its a good thing you believe in yourselves, that’s what really matters but I no fit lie una wowo sha.

    • Nicole

      June 23, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      One of the greatest problems with the black race is Internalised Racism. Studies have proved it to be the stumbling block of every promising and potentially powerful black liberation effort that has failed in the past. We have a post celebrating black women in all shapes, colours and sizes, yet you still handpicked some people out to call ugly….. funny how you gave the light-skinned women a pass… ( and hey, I am light-skinned so dont even go there). It would really be disappointing if you are a black woman, because whether or not we lean toward the Eurocentric beauty ideals/phenotype, the war against us is on.

    • Ada Nnewi

      June 23, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      Lmao!..Thank you for “belling” the cat.

    • Enwongo Cleopas

      June 24, 2015 at 7:49 am

      WOW. And you still had to say that. Sad and pathetic indeed.

    • Chidinma

      June 26, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      What gives you the guts to call God’s creation wowo! smh#

  12. Zadera

    June 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Quite inspiring,because i have realized as a women,you’ve got to love and appreciate yourself.
    It makes you a more confident person and helps you as a woman to celebrate yourself regardless of your size or color.

  13. Olori Tari

    June 23, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Nice concept.

    I don’t see airbrushed faces though, I see only make up and I don’t think that’s bad. Especially if they were called all that even with made up faces. At least this lady (Toyosi) I know personally and this is how she looks on a good’ol day, nothing that different

  14. Inez

    June 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    I do identify. I’ve been told I’m too skinny. #annoying Though, not as annoying as a random stranger saying: ” are you a model? You should be if you’re not”

  15. Keepingitreal

    June 23, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I love this.
    It is so sad when women are put upon for their skin tone especially by the men who share the same heritage as them.
    Nigerian men do not help matters. You will hear a ninja saying he doesn’t want to date a said lady despite her having her accolades/accomplishments intact and being level headed to boot because “she is too dark”.
    A friend of mine told me about a suitor who had been pursuing her for almost a year via social media and she finally gave him a chance to meet up in person. Ninja flew from Texas where he is based to her state to meet her in person for the first time. Guy was an accomplished professional doing ok for himself and although he had a few selling points, she was taken aback when he told her that when his financial ambitions were achieved and he became super successful he would even want her to be brighter than she was. “Mo fe KO ma Don Ju bi o se wa, ko pupa ju and use cream ; For non yoruba folks he would want her to be even lighter skinned and glow more than she was presently and bleach.
    I was shocked because homegirl is not even a chocolate skinned girl. I consider her light-skinned though she says she is a honey light brown. I have always admired her skin tone as it’s is kind of gold/bronzish in color. (Not high yella but not close to brown).
    The funny thing is when she showed me a picture of this ogbeni he was darker than any nigerian man I have ever met in the Unites states.Blue black would be a better terminology. He also had a habit of taking pictures with light-skinned chics and tagging them “with yellow tomato at so andso” on all pictures The inferiority complex was alarming. For reasons best known to her she decided not to give him a chance and I supported it. When a supposed educated nigerian man in diaspora gives you hints that he wants you to start bleaching, that is a red flag.
    Most African women develop self esteem issues about their skin color due to men like these castigating them that they aren’t good enough. A society is only as good as its men and black men in general all over the world have colorism and complex issues it’s crazy. Your sister is dark-skinned and so is your mother but you dont want a similar shaded sister as a partner. Is that not tantamount to hating yourself? and yet you want another man not to show the same bias to your siblings. Smh
    Oh and even Indians and hispanics also play the same game with their darker hued women but this seems to affect the black community the most.
    It’s no wonder white women are seen as the epitome of beauty because their men put them on that pedestal.
    Sorry for the long epistle but my point is just to show that all this self love campaigns that are always being targeted at women of color wil never come to an end anytime soon because women in any society value themselves based on how their men see them.
    Stay blessed everyone!

    • Xtophar

      June 24, 2015 at 8:12 am

      WOW!!! Very deep but true…

    • Nicole

      June 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

      I remember meeting a guy on a dating site: He seemed like a nice guy and the communication was going well until he made a comment. He said if I was really as light as my pictures portrayed, then it would work out between us. I was so turned off, lost interest and cancelled out first meeting. #saynotocolour-strucknegroes.

      I dont support bashing our men, because I believe their behaviour is socially conditioned…and to be honest, it would take a conscious effort to break such behaviour. Secondly Black women are just as guilty of being colour-struck or unappreciating of African features. But I have to say that what Black men (those with internalised racism) dont realise is that, they cant seperate their images from us. We are a reflection of one another, so if the image of the black woman is down, that of black men wont be better.

      Every race has their genre of beauty in my opinion, but the white woman seems like the best, because the white man celebrates her so much, that he washes her beauty standards down everybody’s throat. He is indirectly flattering himself, because that is his reflection in female form. No nation can rise above its woman….

    • Tkum

      June 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      i second this…

  16. ifeoluwa

    June 23, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I see BMJS repping………woohoo!!!
    All of u that saying, what they wrote doesn’t go, shut ur mouth and read properly. She asked them to write the negative names they were called and how they feel now. If someone now feels spectacular, how is dat ur consign? *rme*
    I’m sure u’d prefer ‘chubby’ and now ‘chic’…….smh

  17. Tosin

    June 24, 2015 at 5:41 am


  18. Mee

    June 24, 2015 at 7:29 am

    @keeping it real – very well said.

  19. Californiabawlar

    June 24, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I see that they conspicuously and conveniently left out my orobo crew…dem merix am as ‘chubby’, come classify the sister wey chop up as ‘ugly’ ?? Abeg una for put OROBO seperate! Well, I guess since fat people can/should loose weight they don’t qualify as buriful on the inside? Ko da bayi o! Kontinu??

    Meanwhile this is a worthy cause…kudos!

  20. Vidavi

    June 24, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Lovely concept, lovely campaign, lovely ladies. Imagine what Nigeria would be if all women would simply lift each other up. No insults, no tear downs, no backstabbing, just support.

  21. Priscy

    June 24, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Why is the first lady tying towel???

  22. yeancah Diamond

    June 24, 2015 at 9:46 am

    thats my bimbo Shakara baby representing, black is beautiful, tho am not black but i which i was *roll eyes*

  23. lola

    June 24, 2015 at 10:25 am

    @vidavi you are just the best!! well said. i believe it will be a better place if woman learn to support each other and not criticize. like cant we just said WELL DONE !!!!!!!! and stop there? abegi Bev you too try thumps up and keep inspiring others

  24. Amh

    June 24, 2015 at 10:46 am

    The girls are beautiful. Lovely skin.

  25. CEO

    June 24, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I don’t know what Nigerians want. If someone advocates for bleaching their skin and shamingn black skin, we will criticize them. Now a campaign to encourage black beauty, we still criticize. Smh!

    • Paloma

      June 24, 2015 at 11:32 am

      abi oooo people can never be satisfied

  26. eni

    June 24, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I’ve always been fascinated with albinos. Thers nothing wrong w/them or anybody else. Fat, slim, chubby, dark-light skin, we are all okay. I don’t think “ugly” is a word that should apply to people cos it goes deep in hurting someone’s self esteem. No one had a choice in creating themselves. And if you feel good about yourself in putting another human being down/ body shaming them, then u’re the one whose disgusting, & yes the rest of the world feels sorry for u. We’re all different n that’s why the world is beautiful.

  27. natu

    June 24, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Slavery/colonialism really did a number on Africans. We need to set our own standards of beauty! Stop emulating unrealistic beauty standard. You dark, brown and light skin is amazing. Your kinky, curly and kooky hair is perfection. Yourselves are amazing. Your lips are plump and juicy. Embrace your features.

  28. Gabbie

    June 24, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Geeeeeezz I downloaded all these pictures o

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