"Laila", the Signature Pretty Brown Girl Doll sparked a movement for girls to love the skin they're in.
Sheri Crawley noticed a strong change in her daughter’s behavior as she entered kindergarten. Not only was Laila Crawley becoming more isolated at school, but she also began commenting that she wanted the same blond hair that her classmates had — Laila was also one of a few Black girls at her Metro Detroit Michigan school. Realizing that Laila was struggling with her identity, Crawley and her husband, Corey, began thinking of ways to address the situation.
Around the same time, Anderson Cooper on CNN 360, aired a four part series on research results of a Doll Test. The test was initially conducted in the 1940’s by Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and greatly influenced the decision of Brown vs. Board of Education. This test showed that when given a choice, children have a bias toward brown skin tones. Sheri also had a similar experience with planning a birthday for her youngest daughter Aliya, at a popular doll store located downtown Chicago. Not one of the little girls, including Sheri’s daughters, chose a brown doll. Sheri was shocked and appalled with their decision and very surprised that the only black doll that was available at the store was a freed slave doll named Addy. More than ever, Sheri recognized the need to address the harmful messages about skin tone and beauty in media. She was very concerned about the effect on girls who rarely see images of their own likeness depicted in a positive manner. Her husband began using “Pretty Brown Girl” as a term of endearment towards their daughters. They decided to share this simple yet powerful message to encourage girls to be happy in their beautiful brown skin. The couple began by creating “The Pretty Brown Girl Doll” for girls to send the message that brown skin is indeed beautiful.' Dolls have such an impact on girls and they way that they see themselves and today there is not necessarily a shortage of Afican American dolls, however, there is still a direct disconnect between them seeing these dolls as just as beautiful as white dolls.
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