While eating dinner tonight, my husband and I were watching Shark Tank. Every single time we try to choose something to watch and there’s a new Shark Tank episode, it is the show I least want to watch. I don’t know why I never have the urge to watch it, but once I do, I’m glad I did. Kind of like going to the gym? Anyhow, the reason I was especially happy to watch this episode was because of Naturally Perfect dolls.
The creators of these dolls are an African American couple whose daughter felt she could never be beautiful without blonde hair and light skin. As their hearts audibly broke, they scoured many stores trying to find a doll that their daughter could relate to, and after finding none, they decided to create their own.
Their daughter’s need for a relatable doll really hit home for me, and I was so glad to hear that not just black moms have reached out to Naturally Perfect. Indian and Asian parents have also reached out to them, and it is no wonder why. I’ve previously written about my own experiences with internalized racism in Indian culture and the obsession with light skin (you can read these posts here, here, and here). In short, I too grew up feeling never pretty enough because of my skin tone. Although I was born and raised in the U.S., the deeply rooted views of beauty and skin color persisted in my upbringing and the upbringing of my Indian peers. It saddens me whenever I hear someone say something like, “I’m too dark to look nice in that” or “He/She is too dark for me to date” or “I don’t want to get dark in the sun.” Take a second and think about these statements, and consider how deeply these value judgments impact one’s every day quality of life. Now that I am older, I have built my own confidence in other ways (hard work, achievements, focusing on my physical health and well-being, maintaining fruitful relationships, etc.) rather than focusing energy and value on the color of my skin. We already have enough of that crap happening as it is. Why add to it? Wouldn’t you rather bask in the sunlight of a beautiful day on the beach than worry about getting “too dark?” And too dark for whom, exactly? If someone thinks they are too good for you because their skin is lighter, they’re probably not worth your time. Moving on.
A few months ago I went to pick up my daughter at daycare. She was playing with a doll that I had seen in numerous daycare pictures that her teachers had posted throughout the past few weeks. She loved this doll! It was not until I saw the doll in person that I realized it had darker skin. I was ecstatic! Although my daughter knows nothing about skin color or race at this age (which makes you think about the lack of importance of skin color in human interaction until we learn bias), inside I was beaming with pride. I want her to know that every color is beautiful, that worth is not to be based on external characteristics. I never want her to feel like she is better or worse than anyone, especially not because of her skin tone over which she has no control. Luckily, I’m her mom so I’ll be drilling this into her young, malleable mind =)
Ok she sometimes played with the other dolls too. She isn’t a monster.
If you’re interested, check out the Naturally Perfect dolls! I hope their business skyrockets after their deal on Shark Tank, and I hope that young girls everywhere can learn to love themselves for who they are, inside and out.