Black dolls and black girls

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As described by its founder, Dr. Yaba Blay, Pretty.Period. is “A visual tribute to brown skin. A visional testimony of Black beauty. A vision board for healing.” It’s a place for brown women to come and, not just be appreciated, but celebrated. Where we are not “pretty for a black girl” or ‘pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” We’re pretty. Period.

I saw the above post last week on the organization’s Facebook page, and it absolutely broke my heart. We’ve all seen the doll test videos on YouTube; we know¬†how early, and profoundly and profoundly early,¬†little¬†brown girls are affected by¬†the¬†lies the world would have them believe about themselves. We know that the way to combat this is to tell them and show them and then keep telling and showing them how beautiful they are‚ÄĒthat women all over the world go to extreme lengths to achieve their brand of beauty. That they¬†are lovable and deserve to be loved.

Black girls need to play with and care for dolls that reflect who they are. Period.

Growing up, my mother insisted that all my dolls be black. I had black Kimberly dolls, a black Cabbage Patch Kid, a black Baby-Alive-type doll that scared the crap out of me, but¬†my Mom still¬†made me play with, anyway. She¬†even had two black Raggedy Ann dolls¬†made for me¬†because “if you want a raggedy doll, she’s gonna be black.” Which…well,¬†you just read that, so you know. Her intention was clear, though.

I know the "Waggedy" looks white, but she is just light-skinned.

Don’t side-eye Little Raggedy. She’s just light-skinned.

My friend Dana¬†is¬†the most creative person I know. A graphic designer/photographer/should-have-her-own-show chef/(former) beauty and food blogger and now–knitter, her ability to just pick up new skills and be great at¬†them has always blown my mind. Her current blog is about all the things she knits. She makes sweaters and baby blankets and clothes for her dog; she’s knit¬†me awesome hats and cowl scarfs. But the other day I happened upon something on her Instagram feed that melted my heart. She’d knitted a little brown doll for our friend Yuvay’s daughter, Maddie. She even made a sweater for Maddie to match the sweater the doll had on. How sweet is this? Check out her post here.

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Making a brown doll for a brown girl gave me so much joy! — DWJ

And it looks like little Maddie loved it as well! I think it’s my favorite of all the things she’s made in the 20 years I’ve known her; it’s definitely the most important. And having just seen the Pretty.Period. post, I had to share it. I have the dopest friends. Am I too old for a doll like Maddie’s, D? You don’t have to make me the matching sweater…

#BlackGirlMagic
#BlackDollMagic

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