28-year-old podcast host and journalist Darian Harvin was going through photos from a trip to Paris when she noticed a photo of herself in front of Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Looking at the photo started her thinking about the contrasts between herself and the painting, and what people's "ideals around beauty and what's acceptable."
Harvin took to Twitter to share her thoughts, and to encourage other black women to share photos of themselves with the iconic painting.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News about the thread, Harvin said:
"I was missing Paris more than usual and decided to flip through photos in my camera roll from my last trip, and came across my photos at the Louvre. I remember the experience; slowly making my way to the front of the Mona Lisa, as close as I could get, and finally taking my photo."
Mona Lisa has shaped the way many people think about beauty.
The painting's pervasiveness in the public consciousness as an ideal of beauty and rarity has skewed the idea of what is beautiful.
"Anyone who has seen the Mona Lisa in real life knows it can be underwhelming, as it is pretty small; however the image is significant due to her mysterious gaze and because it's by Leonardo da Vinci. But I also think the painting has, over time, contributed to ideals around beauty and what's acceptable."
"My hope was that if I shared my photo, other black girls would feel encouraged to as well, and we could reinforce the idea that beauty comes in all forms. Like I said in a subsequent tweet: I just feel like Mona Lisa has been fed as this traditionally beautiful woman, and when I see black women stand confidently in front of it, I think it pushes back against this notion of who is beautiful."
Plenty of Twitter users were happy to join in, and Harvin was ecstatic with everyone's enthusiasm.
She told BuzzFeed "I have to tell you that I am shook by how... people are reacting to this thread. Nothing in me was expecting this much positivity."
Darian's thread challenges people to consider the stereotypes they carry about what is beautiful, and in doing so has helped to spread more beauty through the world.