Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Girl Like Me: Complexion, Hair and Facial Feature Issues in African Community

A Girl Like Me is a 2005 award-winning documentary by Kiri Davis. The seven-minute documentary examines such things as the importance of color, hair and facial features for young African American women. It won the Diversity Award at the 6th Annual Media That Matters film festival in New York City, and has received coverage on on various American media sources, such as CNN, ABC, NPR. The documentary has been shown on HBO and is available, in its entirety, on mediathatmattersfest.org. The documentary was made as part of Reel Works Teen Filmmaking.

The video begins with interviews with Kiri and her peers about how 'black' features did not conform to society's standards of beauty. The next section was a repeat of an experiment conducted by Kenneth Clark in the 1940s where African-American children were asked to choose between black or white dolls. In the original experiment(s) the majority of the children choose the white dolls. When Davis repeated the experiment 15 out of 21 children also choose the white dolls over the black, giving similar reasons as the original subjects, associating white with being "pretty" or "good" and black with "ugly" or "bad". The dolls used in the documentary were identical except for skin colour.

My jaw dropped when i first seen this documentary a few years ago and had to spread it around. Not that I didn't know of these issues of the black community, but it's completely different when looking from the outside in.

I hope this video will have an impact on you as it did to me. If so, please spread this around and leave a comment!


Alex said...

The video "A Girl Like Me" is so sad. I would like to think that the dissatisfaction with ones appearance is something that is not limited to African-Americans, but rather something perpetrated by corporations for a tidy profit. However, I totally accept that African-Americans are a special case, in that they were forced to assimilate to a culture that was not their own, and thus a special self-hate exists in African American self-perception.

I do feel that African-Americans will only be able to embrace who and what they are when they move away from a psychology of victimology and take back control of their lives and culture.

Blackstone, keep up the great blog, it's one of my favourites.

blackstone said...

It definitely is a sad video. Those, young children who didn't want to play with the black doll because it was "ugly" or "bad", will grow up to become teenagers and adults with the same self-hatred. As one of my friends had said, they will one day be parents and continue this horrible cycle.

tom said...

Well, what I noticed in American movies (I am a European) is that guys can be almost as dark as it gets but their femal partners definitely have to be lighter than they are. It's a Hollywood rule. So this is also about gender.

blackstone said...

Most definately Tom. Great observation. This can even be more seen in American commericials. If a commericial does in fact have black people they are more often than not dark skinned, especially the woman. If the woman does in fact have her hair natural and unpermed, it is usually because her hair texture is less thick and course but curly.

Not only do dark skin actors date lighter women in their movies, but also in their personal lives!

Again, good observation.