Both Viola Davis and Michelle Obama have been in the spotlight lately, but for the most part, dark-skinned women are underrepresented in pop culture. We have plenty of hugely popular black singers and actresses — Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Halle Berry — but more often they are the light shades of tan. And the truth is, children form opinions out skin color — and how it relates to their own self-worth — at a very early age. Sheri Crawley and her husband Corey hope to have an impact, which is why they started Pretty Brown Girls. The organization sells T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Pretty Brown Girl" but also aims to build confidence and leadership skills.
As the Star-Tribune reports, a 2008 University of Wisconsin-Madison study of 98 black adolescent girls found that ethnic identity and perception of skin tone often predicted self-esteem. Time and time again, we have seen doll experiments, in which children ans young as 5 call a white doll "nice," and a black doll "bad." (Learn more about doll experiments here and here.) The Crawleys hope that they can combat the messages little girls receive. Though they're using the
According to the Pretty Brown Girl website:
We know that our girls today are receiving mixed messages from the media, their peers, and countless other places. The chasm between childhood and adulthood is an extremely difficult bridge to cross. At a very early age, girls begin to shape their self image, and it is that image that they hold on to. By implementing this very simple yet powerful message into our vocabulary, we can help to empower a girl and empower a world!
It might seem kind of trite to shill T-shirts with a simplistic message — especially one that focuses on physical atrributes — but beauty has been equated with fair skin, for centuries. It's important for women of all colors to feel beautiful (and smart, and capable). Plus, PBG isn't merely T-shirts — a mentoring group run by the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta is pairing the philosophy with discussions. As is obvious in the documentary Dark Girls (seen in the clip at left), brown girls need all the help they can get.
16-year-old Aubriana Jackson, as an official Pretty Brown Girl, has taken a pledge to "dream big, remember that I am beautiful inside and out, enjoy learning and laughing, always believe in myself and make healthy choices." She tells the Star-Tribune: "I thought the pledge was corny at first. But the more they explained it to me and the founders' inspiration, it became more significant to me."
Earlier: Welcome To The Dollhouse: Do We Need Our Dolls To Be Mini-Mes?
In GMA Test Many Black Girls Still Say White Dolls Are Prettier
‘White Beauty' Has An Ugly Message
The Heartbreaking Reality Of Being A Dark-Skinned Black Woman