This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Maria Borges Is The First African Model Of The *Century* To Make An Elle U.S. Cover

"It’s all about inspiration."

Model Maria Borges' star is on the rise.

The 24-year-old made history on Tuesday as the first African model of the century to grace the cover of Elle U.S. — rocking her natural hair, of course — and it doesn't look like the west African beauty has plans to slow down any time soon.

"Thank you @elleusa for this great opportunity," she said on Instagram Wednesday. "It's an honor to be on the cover of the AMERICAN ELLE, feeling beautiful and rocking my afro!"

Inside the pages of the glossy, the Angola-born star shared an inspiring message of why her cover is so sentimental.

"The fashion industry is here for everyone, [regardless] of colour or race," she told Elle. "When I was growing up, I never saw someone like me, and now the other girls can see someone like them. It’s all about inspiration."

Other cover stars include Jasmine Tookes, Bella Hadid, Candice Huffine, Hailey Baldwin and Elsa Hosk.

But this isn't the first time Borges has made history for black women in fashion.

Back in 2015, she proudly flaunted her short, natural hair on the Victoria's Secret runway, a first for the lingerie retailer's annual show.

"I told my agent I wanted to walk in the Victoria's Secret show with my natural hair," she told entertainment blogger B. Scott following the show. "I was nervous, but I had to do it. When they said 'yes' I didn't expect it, but I was so happy!"

"Since I've gone natural, I feel younger and fresher," the catwalk star later told i-D magazine in August 2015. "With my short hair I don't feel like I need makeup — maybe I'll use a little foundation, but I'll skip blush or lipstick."

Back in 1997, Sudanese model Alek Wek was the first black model to ever be on an American Elle cover, which reportedly was seen as a "huge risk" for the publication. At the time, it was believed magazines featuring models of colour wouldn't sell. However, this issue went on to gross record numbers, according to Fashion Bomb Daily.

Thankfully, fashion has come a long way since then. And models who are breaking the norm are aware of the impact and importance of their work.

"I showed women they don't have to look one way to feel beautiful," Borges told Glamour last year. "Be you and showcase your beauty."

Also on HuffPost

Donyale Luna

25 Influential Black Models

This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact