On February 25, PrettyBrownGirl.com launched National Pretty Brown Girl Day to unite all brown girls, regardless of race or nationality. The organization, founded in 2010, has one major mission: to encourage girls to celebrate who they are by developing positive self-esteem, confidence and leadership while teaching them to be happy in their own skin. Over the past few years we have seen as resurgence in black girl power — Sesame’s Street’s 2010 viral powerhouse “I Love My Hair” spawned an onset of conversations about black beauty while blogs like Black Girls Killing It choose to recognize the fierceness that is black style. These aspects of our social culture remind us that we can do anything as black women and that we are stronger when we come together.
Why is it so important to celebrate black beauty? Do we really need National Pretty Brown Girl Day? Growing up in today’s American society, I would say yes we do. As a teenager, I couldn’t stand my body. I thought that curves were hideous and the only way to be seen as beautiful was to be as skinny as a stick. I remember measuring my weight obsessively everyday, getting excited when I’d lose a pound after starving myself at school all day. All girls are united in that sense — it seems that we all go through body image issues as we transition into our adult selves. But as a young black girl I didn’t understand that the roundness of my bum and the curve of my hips was something that was natural to me and my race. I was supposed to look like that. I never truly realized it. On television everyone liked smaller than they really were and young adults on reality shows obsessively talked about losing weight. Heavy set girls or curvy women weren’t cast in the hottest shows and black women with curls or unaltered beauty were barely cast in the latest television shows or Grammy Award performances. I didn’t really stop resisting my natural black beauty until I got to college – and gained that freshman 15.
We need Pretty Brown Girl Day to make sure that young girls never stop thinking that their beautiful. It’s almost freaky to think of all the twisted things that exist in the world and the way that children can be psychologically affected at such a young age. They grow up with stigmas, thinking that they aren’t good enough, that they aren’t beautiful enough, that they need to change who they are. These negative values follow them into teenage years and on into adulthood and can often manifest themselves in overcompensating or dangerous habits. We always talk about how the children are our future and how we must be role models to the next generation. That’s why I’m proud to be a pretty brown girl and I smiled with so much glee watching these young girls recite the Pretty Brown Girl pledge. By promoting the day, I felt like I was doing my part, that I was standing up for something. It was like screaming, “Hey! I’m brown and beautiful just like you!” a feeling of excitement flashing up my spine.