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Sprouting from La Misión and gathering women from all over the Bay Area, Hijxs (pronounced “ee-hex”) Del Sol is a collective of women of color “whose goals are to embrace themselves and inner chingonxs through the lens and beyond,” according to its mission statement.

Hijxs is a variation of the word “hijas,” the “x” is a linguistic adaptation that has been used to coin terms such as “Latinx” and “Chicanx,” which are gender neutral in order to be more inclusive.

Hijxs Del Sol, a collective of more than 70 mujeres from all over the Bay Area. was formed in December of 2016 by Yoselin Martinez Xonthé and Ariana Vazquez—both members of Carnaval SF, DJ’s for Chulita Vinyl Club and consistent faces at Mission District community events.

Martinez Xonthé and Vazquez came to the realization that “womxn” of color in the Bay Area lacked a space to gather and be unapologetically proud of their bodies and celebrate the beauty that exists outside of Euro-centric beauty standards. The creation of Hijxs Del Sol was their answer to this need.

The collective creates safe spaces by hosting photoshoots to capture the beauty of “womxn” of color in all its forms. “Womxn” from all over the Bay Area were invited to participate, along with photographers who identify with the ideals of the collective to capture the project.

Amelia Berumen, an emerging documentary photographer from Oakland, was the first to document an Hijxs Del Sol photoshoot.

“Most women look like us but we are nowhere to be found on TV, social media and billboards. It’s about empowerment and visibility,” said Berumen. “My whole life I was told I looked dirty and was too fat, and short, HDS (Hijxs Del Sol) makes you feel like there is a place for our beauty in this world.”

Martinez Xonthé and Vazquez drew inspiration for Hijxs Del Sol’s visual style from Pansy Co., an underwear company based in San Leandro. They were drawn to Pansy Co.’s simplistic style and its inclusion of a variety of body shapes. They knew this same vision could be channeled to create art that celebrates the bodies of “womxn” of color.

Martinez Xonthé and Vazquez thought that the name of the collective should honor the beauty of melanin. After toying around with names that were inspired by words like “morena,” “miel” and “piel,” they came upon Hijxs Del Sol, a name that makes a reference to the beauty of melanin and its relationship with the sun.

Mujeres from all over the Bay Area gathered in the Mission District’s Secret Garden on Feb. 4 for Hijxs Del Sol’s first photo shoot. Reluctant, they stood in the rain, thinking of cancelling the shoot, when one by one, 20 members of the collective showed up.

“It wasn’t how we planned it, but all of these down-ass mujeres are showing up knowing it’s going to be in the rain and they’re still down to do it? We have to do this,” said Martinez Xonthé.

At noon the rain stopped, and the very first Hijxs Del Sol photo shoot began.

What followed was a spiritual experience of “womxn” celebrating beauty, not only of themselves but one another. With each beautiful shot and idea created, the experience rendered smiles, laughter, and cheers for the art that was being created.

Berumen, brought her daughter to the gathering.

“It was inspiring to me and to my daughter,” she said. “Here is a group of mujeres with my same visions and goals. It was really empowering and beautiful to document and to be present in.”

Some of the mujeres knew each other prior to the shoot, but many met for the first time that day and have since made lasting connections. Martinez Xonthé and Vazquez’s vision was manifested and continues to foster a type of community the Bay Area had been lacking.

Hijxs Del Sol plans to host more photoshoots so that more can partake. There are also collaborations with other photographers who identify with the mission and the development of projects where the collective can give back to the community through civic engagement.

Collective member Jasmine Hernandez described the shoot as “magical and full of cariño y amor. Everyone was acting like aunts who have not seen in each other in years, getting ready for a party.”

Estrella Yepez, another member, added that “being a part of HDS is one of the most beautiful experiences I have had the chance to partake in. To be in a non-judgemental space of acceptance and encouragement has had a positive impact on me and for that I will forever be grateful.”

Through the resistance of Euro-centric beauty standards and the fight against the suppression of “womxn” of color’s voices, Hijxs Del Sol has an undeniable momentum in this time of growing uprisings within the Bay Area and across communities of color all over the nation.

These mujeres walk among you on the streets, they’re in your classrooms and sitting at the bus stop with you. They invite you to hear their voice and accept their bodies.

Raven Sanchez is a member of Hijxs Del Sol, the collective is actively looking for new spaces to host their photo shoots and may be reached at hijxsdelsol@gmail.com and via Instagram @hijxsdelsol