Growing up, I was lucky to have two older sisters. Emphasis on the word older, as I began to play with dolls they had already moved on to the big girl toys… what’s more important than a barbie corvette, barbie deluxe playhouse, and hundreds of clothing options beats me. The good thing was that not only did my parents shower me with barbie goodies but I also inherited the now no longer used collection of my sisters. I had a barbie empire full of dolls ranging from every color. This was the norm for me as I imagined up elaborate story lines for my dolls to live.
Yet, as doll catalogs came in the mail I eagerly found myself flipping page after page until I would stumble across the one or two black barbies in the catalog. This extended beyond barbie, walking down the toy aisle was the same scenario, eyes filled with a fervent desire to find a brown doll that looked like me. Sometimes I stumbled across one… yet, often I did not. So when I stumbled across “Pretty Brown Girl” I had to share this movement with mothers across the board who are seeking out dolls to give to their daughters to let them see a miniature version of themselves.
Take a look at what inspired this movement….
—-After moving to a predominately white neighborhood outside of Detroit, Sheri began to notice that Laila was beginning to develop identity and self-esteem issues from being the only African American student in her class.
“She started asking me for products that she would see sold on TV, so if it was a Pantene commercial where she would see long blonde hair similar to her table mates, she would ask me to buy it thinking that it would change her hair,” Sheri explained.
The couple morphed their daughter’s faces together to create the first ever “Pretty Brown Girl Doll.” While waiting for the doll to be manufactured, the Crowley’s established a hugely successful t-shirt line adorned with the slogan “Pretty Brown Girl Movement.” Over 500 girls attended a celebration to honor ‘Pretty Brown Girls’ and had real conversations about having self-love.
After receiving such high praise for the event and t-shirts, the Crowley’s quickly learned that their family was not the only ones dealing with issues of identity. People across the country began to call the Crowleys asking how they could contribute to the organization or how they could duplicate their mission in their hometowns.
The Pretty Brown Girl Foundation uses their dolls, t-shirts and community-based programs to establish a platform where girls and women can discuss the realities of being a brown girl and a brown woman in America.