Yelitsa Jean-Charles cried the first time she received a black Barbie doll. It wasn’t what she wanted–or expected. What she wanted was the “pretty” blue eyed, blonde hair Barbie. She was seven years old and already associated her black skin as less than pretty.
“I started distancing myself from anything that could associate me with blackness because why would I want to be associated with the one thing that I’m shown that nobody likes?”
Now, Jean-Charles is the founder of Healthy Roots Dolls, the first line of natural hair care dolls created to combat the impact of colorism and internalized racism by empowering girls through diversity and positive representation.
“Toys are a great way to solve this problem at a young age. Toys influence how we think, how we act, and how we see ourselves…we also create a book that teaches girls hair care step-by-step…it helps girls embrace their natural hair.”