To Love. To Grow. To Change. To Live.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Little Black Girls

We only buy brown skinned dolls for Maddie to play with and I love that they are all different shades of brown.  We also don't allow others to buy her dolls of any other color either.

"Baby" as she calls her, is currently her favorite.  She goes wherever she goes (e.g., to daycare, to sleep, shopping, etc.), and she hugs, kisses and calls her pretty.  I so love to watch all this.

I understand that this might seem strange, and to someone outside of the African American race you might feel like I'm setting my daughter up to have issues with other races by only allowing brown skinned dolls in the home; but, I assure you that is not the case.  Please understand that this isn't about how she is to feel about and interact with other races, this is about establishing a sense of self-worth within her as a person of color.

Representation of African American women in media is scarce and oftentimes we're portrayed in a negative way (e.g., "promiscuous", "angry", "bitter", "baby mamas", "uneducated", etc.) further feeding into stereotypes.  Since we can't pretend like the media and the things we are exposed to outside the home don't play a major role in how we view ourselves, self-love MUST start at home for little black girls.

So no matter the tone of her skin (or the texture of her hair), I consistently remind her that she is beautiful. She is talented. She is intelligent. She is worthy. She is loved. And I show her positive images of African American woman doing incredible things, accomplishing much.

I show her that brown girls do ballet, and so many other positive, fulfilling things...


I show her that black girls are more than capable of obtaining higher education (and excelling at it, I might add)...

{My BFFs:  Left to Right - Two Masters Degrees, Engineering Degree (me), Law Degree, Law Degree.}


I explain that long, flowy hair and lighter skin is beautiful, but short, natural hair and darker skin is JUST as beautiful.


I even show her that the media doesn't ALWAYS get it wrong...

I consistently show and tell her that African American woman can be smart, driven, amazing women who can do anything they put their minds to.  She should never feel diminished due to her gender or race, never feel that she is inferior to another, and never use it as an excuse to not strive to reach her full potential.

Ultimately, #blackgirlsrock too and it's my job to make sure she knows it :)!


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6 comments

  1. I definitely see your point, and I definitely understand why you'd want your daughter to feel that way. When I worked in childcare, a little girl who was black told me once that she wished that she had blond hair. And it broke my heart. I wouldn't want any young girl -- no matter what race she was -- to wish she looked different, whether that was different hair, different skin tone, or even just that she didn't have freckles.

    I think, though, that when I do have a daughter (if I do), I will encourage her to embrace dolls that look like she does, and recognize how beautiful her own features are, but also allow her to get dolls that look different from her. I think that society already has a tendency to only like things that are exactly as we are, and I wouldn't want to feed that mentality.

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    1. I totally get where you're coming from, Becca, totally. However, this isn't about further perpetuating a mentality that she should only like things that are exactly like her (i.e., her race, in this instance). Teaching her to like herself isn't the same as teaching her to like her race only. This is more about self-esteem and self-worth which, unfortunately for black girls, must include a love of their skin colour due to the racism, oppression, colourism, mysogyny and European beauty standards that remain as a result of slavery.

      I think people tend to think that when you like and love yourself that somehow means that you don't like and love others. The two are not mutually exclusive and that tends to be society's binary way of thinking, in my opinion. Furthermore, the classic Clark Doll Experiment has shown that Black children's self-perception within the context of race is that of inferiority and they tend to have a dislike for (their own) darker skin. I’m more than certain, that the above issues are not issues that your daughter will be faced with, and when she walks out into society or turns on the television she won’t have a problem finding positive images that look like her, which further influences ones perception of themselves. So the way we raise our girls will definitely be different anyway.

      For these reasons, I feel it is necessary to instill in my daughter a sense of self-love and worth. Again, loving (liking) oneself is not the same as not loving (liking) or valuing others. Please know that I so appreciate your comment and I pray that mine is not poorly received or offensive, whether we agree or not.

      Take care,
      -Nicole

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  2. I think this is great! What a blessed little girl you have to have her mommy supporting and encouraging her like this. Very cool!

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  3. What if she asks for a white one eventually? Will you say no? My daughter is 20 months old. I let her pick out the doll she wants. Recently she picked a black one and I didn't skip a beat. I would think saying "you're not allowed to have that one because it's white" could potentially send a bad message.

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  4. Love this post and way to go Momma! I just adore Lupita! some say I look like her a bit, i will take it. It is also nice to see that there are more dolls of different races in the market.

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  5. I read this post to see things from a different perspective. I can't really relate to your post at all- I'm white and the mother of a little boy- but I appreciate your views. I do have the same question as in another comment- what would you do if your daughter asks for a white doll?
    Your comments about wanting your daughter to be able to have positive images that look like her I think is a message that goes beyond skin color. Self esteem is something that I want to encourage in my own children, and I think we have to take an active role as parents. Thanks for the reminder and a different perspective!

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