Celebrating Our Beauty: Spotlight on The Black Doll Affair
Blue Black, Chocolate, Caramel or Mocha? Light bright or dang near White? Flat, Fat, Boney, Voluptuous, Thick, or meat in the right places? Beady Beads, Nappy, Good Hair, Short Hair, This (SNAP) much hair, Long Hair – don’t care!? Haven’t we used all of these “terms of endearment”/characteristics to describe each other as black girls and women? I know I have heard them all or said it about someone else. This is a sad, but a true reality in our community.
I would like to tell you about a movement that is working hard to completely turn around the way we see and talk about each other as Black girls and women. This movement is called the Black Doll Affair (BDA)! I was introduced to this movement by a kindred spirit I met at a conference this summer. The mission of this movement, is to re-define beauty by showing young Black girls that they are their own standard of beauty, and they have nothing more to achieve except to be great in the skin they were born in. The women of the Black Doll Affair do this by not only giving young black girls black dolls and hosting self-esteem workshops for teens, but also by modeling healthy qualities that positive women should have which gives these young girls something to look up to and an example of who they can be when they become women. At the Black Doll Affair events, the Black Dolls (the women who make up the Black Doll Affair) wear cute t-shirts that say “Black Doll”, which to me is what drives the point home. These women come in all different shapes, sizes, hues, hairstyles, and from all walks of life, and they are beautiful (the BDA would say b’huetiful) just like a doll, just like you and me!
This movement was birthed out of Atlanta by Dana Hill, a marketing and PR consultant. She was inspired to begin this Black Doll Affair movement in light of the recent replication of the “doll test” that was originally done in the 40’s by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark , who were instrumental in the Brown vs. Board of Education case as they testified as expert witnesses . The test basically assessed Black children’s perceptions of what is good or bad, pretty and ugly, nice or mean, etc. Guess what! The black doll lost (meaning the children thought it was not good, not pretty, and not nice) in the 40’s and the black doll lost in the replicated test done by teen film maker Kiri Davis in 2007. How sad is that?! See the footage from Ms. Davis’ film here. CNN conducted its own replication of this study in 2010 with similar results. When I met Ms. Hill, in Houston, she relayed a story of a beautiful little girl who she told someday someone would tell her that “she is pretty to be so Black” and the girl burst into tears because people already say that to her. This is the story of the Black Doll Affair movement; regular beauty queens like you and me seeing the beauty in ourselves and modeling how to do that for the next generation, and also for our peers.
Any positive women who love themselves and act accordingly can join this movement. As I mentioned above, it started in Atlanta in 2007 and there are now BDA groups in DC, Houston, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, and more cities throughout the country! The BDA was invited to the White House and recognized by President Obama with a Volunteer Service Award and partners with companies such as Mattel, Macy’s, Lamik Beauty, Bronner Brothers, and many more all with the goal of improving the self-esteem and self-worth of Black girls and women. If you’re interested in inspiring girls to recognize the beauty in themselves by simply being B’huetifully You, check the Black Doll Affair website for more details and keep reading Dynamo Magazine of course.
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