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Posted under: Videos Race & Identity
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When Yelitsa Jean-Charles received her first Barbie doll at the age of 7, she was unaware of the lasting impact it would have on her journey as a black woman. In her TED talk, Jean-Charles explains the overwhelming emotions that overcame her as she accepted a black Barbie from her parents. Her tearful reaction isn't what she or her parents expected. "I started crying because to me, it wasn't the real Barbie because it wasn't the pretty Barbie. And, how was I to know any better when the only images that I saw as beautiful were the blue-eyed, blonde, white Barbie dolls," Jean-Charles admitted. "I started distancing myself from anything that could associate me with blackness." A harrowing truth for many black girls. Once she hit college age, Jean-Charles had to address the complexities of her self-image as a Black woman. While studying art, she arrived at an enlightening moment that it is her duty to be socially aware and responsible. During this time, Jean-Charles began to study and notice the low representation for children of color in media. "In 2014 alone, there were 5,000 books made. But only 8% were about children of color. But over 50% of children in the U.S. are of color. Those numbers just don't add up. It doesn't make any sense." Combining her skills as an artist with her findings on colorism as it pertains to children, she went back to the drawing board. Her first experience with the black Barbie doll was all she needed. Toys and hair were the answer. Once she began embracing her own black girl magic and using it as a teaching tool, the true spark began. Jean-Charles is the founder and Creative Director of Healthy Roots, the first line of natural hair dolls.
Photo: Healthy Roots
Photo: Healthy Roots
Photo: Healthy Roots

The mission?

Our dolls combat internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: diversity and knowledge! Our research has shown that mothers resort to relaxing their daughters' hair due to time constraints, lack of knowledge about natural haircare, and the desire to appeal to mainstream beauty standards. Through our line of dolls our mission is to educate children and mothers about the joy and beauty of natural hair.

Black girl magic, indeed.

Photo: tumblr
Photo: tumblr
Photo: tumblr

What are your thoughts on the negative impact of colorism on children? Let us know in the comments.


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