African supermodel Maria Borges on cover of Elle magazine

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Maria Borges on the front page of ElleImage source, Elle
Image caption,
Maria Borges has tweeted of her delight at appearing on the Elle front cover

Supermodel Maria Borges has tweeted that she is honoured to be the first African woman to feature on the cover of the American version of Elle magazine this century.

In an interview with Elle, the Angolan emphasised the importance of diversity in the fashion industry.

She said the industry was for everyone, regardless of race.

The previous African woman to appear on the magazine's front cover was Sudanese model Alek Wek in 1997.

"It's an honour to be on the cover of the American Elle, feeling beautiful and rocking my afro!" she said on Instagram.

'All about inspiration'

Borges also won acclaim in 2015, when as a Victoria's Secret lingerie model she became the first black woman to display her natural hair "in its Afro state" without being made up, Buzzfeed reported.

Image source, AFP
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Maria Borges is one of the world's most sought-after models
Image source, Elle
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Plus-size model Candice Huffine also appears in the May US edition of Elle

She said that hoped her latest success on the front page of the May US edition of Elle would inspire other women from Africa to follow her example.

"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."

Ms Borges features as one of six swimsuit models in the magazine, appearing alongside Candice Huffine - one of the first plus-size women to be on the front page of one of the magazine's special sections.

In a meteoric rise Ms Borges became the face of L'Oreal Paris in February. She issued a statement at the time pointing out "that a girl who started from the bottom can be an international beauty symbol and be living proof that our dreams are valid".

She has been modelling since 2010 and has also appeared for Chanel, Balmain, and Givenchy.