Sheri Crawley’s inspiration for a day for brown skin girls came from her daughters Laila, 8, (left) and Aliya, 6 (right). Photos/Sheri Crawley (Courtesy Photo)
After relocating to a Midwest suburban neighborhood in 2010, Sheri Crawley’s noticed a change in her bubbly, energetic and confident daughter Laila. Her daughter began attending kindergarten at predominantly White school and began longing for long, blonde hair like her classmates. Crawley, who has read several studies about skin bias such as the 1940s Doll Test by Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, where young Black children thought White dolls were prettier than darker skinned dolls, knew she had to curtail her daughter’s perception of her brown skin.
“We can’t pretend skin tones don’t matter in our country. Girls on an everyday basis are dealing with issues in their classrooms and even in their relationships,” said Crawley. “We have so few representations of women in a positive light. We need to have a discussion now with our children.” After praying and seeking direction from God, Crawley said she and her husband set out to create a doll for their daughters that would celebrate their appearance and heritage. The result is the Pretty Brown Girl Doll.
“As we look at the state of Black America, we are further away now than we have ever been to our culture, our ethnicity and our ancestry,” said Crawley. “It’s time to get back to the basics and really celebrate it.” Since the release of the first doll, the Crawley family has expanded Pretty Brown Girl to books-journals such as “My First Day of School” by Sherri Crawley, baby gear, Obama T-shirts, wristbands, pledge cards and curriculum-based workshops held by groups across the country.
This month, the Pretty Brown Girl Foundation is gearing up to launch the first International Pretty Brown Skin Day set for Feb. 23. That day is to be a day of empowerment and encouragement designed to help young girls appreciate their varying and diverse complexions and skin tones while the develop self-esteem and confidence.