Friday, June 21, 2013

OWN to Air Dark Girls

Dark Girls, the documentary co-directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, is scheduled to air on the Oprah Winfrey Network Sunday, June 23, 2013, at 10p.m.EST/9 p.m. CST.

If you have access to OWN, you may be interested in watching or recording this "fascinating and controversial film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures." (This description is from the OWN website.)  It is rated PG (L).

View the trailer:

Based on the testimonies of the women in the Dark Girls trailer, many, if not all needed and probably still need some special friends, love, and validation to overcome feelings of inferiority.  Their hurt originates from constant negative remarks by others regarding something beyond their control, genetic melanin richness.

To keep this post doll-related, I used the above image of Special Friends dolls by Rainbow Classics, circa 1990 because of their complexion.  The dolls' tender age group of around 3 to 5 years is another reason they were chosen.  Within this age range children have usually become aware of their physical appearance based on the reflection they see in the mirror and statements made by others -- negative or positive.  Comments about a child's physical attributes can have a long-lasting psychological effect -- negative and positive. 

The dolls are shown in full view and described below. 

The Special Friends dolls are vinyl with rooted hair.  The taller dolls stand 5-1/2 inches and have brown inset eyes.  The smallest is 4-inches tall with painted black eyes.  All three have freckles and a beautiful melanin-rich complexion.


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  1. Thanks for the info. I will try to record it. I just need to figure out how to do it. I have a close male friend, who is in his mid 50s. I think he's extremely handsome, but he has major inferiority issues directly connected to the pigment in his skin. They are deeply ingrained.

    1. You're welcome. I plan to record it because I am usually asleep by the time it airs. I plan to also record Oprah's Next Chapter which airs an hour before Dark Girls. "Oprah sits with Hollywood acresses, Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union." This should be an interesting conversation.


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    3. I failed to comment on your male friend's self-esteem issues. Unfortunately, the dark-skin complex effects men, too; but I think it effects black women on a larger scale. It may be that men don't openly discusss their problems as much.

      I can't imagine not liking myself because of something I cannot control specifically based on what others think. I refuse to allow people to have that much power over me. I guess coming from a family where we were not allowed to speak poorly about one another or anyone else, helped; and when it happened to me from outside sources (neighborhood kids or strangers) I just shook the haters off by ignoring them, remaining focused on whatever I was doing at the time.

  2. I think we just don't hear about the men as much. I saw a documentary on Isaac Hayes a couple of months ago, and his daughter revealed that he had major self esteem issues his entire life because of his dark complexion. That was the whole reason he started wearing the shades, which ultimately turned into a signature piece for him. Who would have thought it was his means of hiding from the world. Another music person that had similar issues was Alexander O'Neal. So I just think men tend to keep it more to themselves.

  3. Trying to live up to or within societal ideas is annoying enough, but when you add in the fact that our society exalts appearance over most other attributes, it can be painful when you don't come close to the ideal standard. Even doubly so when your own supposed community is the one ridiculing you.

    I saw this documentary awhile ago and it made me cry buckets. It was very reflective of my youthful experiences and comments I've heard about light skinned versus dark from children AND adults. To put it succinctly, people suck. Your skin isn't right, your hair isn't right, heck, your sexuality isn't right. Being in a society isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    1. Very well put, Muff. I would hate to be a child in today's society with all the bullying that goes on for even the slighest differences from the so-called norm.

      Watching Dark Girls is probably going to make me feel helpless and sad for the women profiled and others who have endured such taunts and torment. However, I am glad they were given an opportunity to share these painful experiences and hope doing so will help them and others heal or begin the healing process.


  4. Debbie, how was the documentary?

    I was doing a Google image search for dolls and saw the image of these beautiful Special Friends dolls and came to this page to learn more about them. I almost backed right back off of this page when I saw the content, but I decided to keep reading. I had seen the trailer for Dark Girls pop up on Facebook a lot, but never wanted to look at it. So this was my first time seeing the trailer.

    The little girl with the illustrations of girls of varying shades just broke my heart. I want to give her a big hug and tell her that she is smart and she is nice and she is beautiful. I don't know if I would want to watch the entire documentary, because just seeing the clip brought out so many emotions.

    I have a best friend who I've been close to since the age of 10. We grew up together, and know each other very well. I remember her once saying to me (when we were in our 30's) that she would not want to have a daughter by a particular man that she was dating because her daughter would be dark. She was okay with having a dark-skinned boy, but not a girl. I can not tell you how shocked I was hearing this from my friend. My smart, beautiful, funny, well-educated friend that I've known almost my entire life. I tried to express to her how shocked and disgusted I was to hear her say that, and she told me that she would not want her daughter to go through the same things that she went through growing up.

    I was so confused. I mean, I was THERE when she was growing up. I asked her what in the world had she gone through. And she told me, and I listened. And I remembered things that didn't have much of an effect on me as a child, like that rhyme "if you're light, you're alright. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, get back!" And I learned how devastating that was for her. I remembered that all of us were teased, no one got out of childhood without the teasing, but I learned how devastating some of the teasing was for her. And I just felt sad.

    Growing up, my older brother used to tease me about my weight. He was tall, good-looking, and athletic, and I felt defenseless when he teased me about my appearance. I can remember one day being in the living room with my brother and my mother, and my brother was calling me fat. I kept telling him to shut up, and my mother seemed oblivious. My brother kept teasing, and I said to him "you big bllllllaaaaackkkk..." I didn't even get the rest of it out before my mother's head snapped around and she told me not to ever say that. I was really confused, and I told her he had been sitting there calling me fat, and she told me just to never say that. I felt angry at my mother, and for a long time I called my brother "black" so-and-so's behind my mother's back just to spite her. I'd finally found something that I could say that MUST be bad, because it was worse than calling someone fat, and I knew how much that hurt.

    I hate so much that in my childhood, I fed into this idiocy. I wish so much that I could go back to certain moments and change them. I would call someone stupid for repeating that rhyme. I would be more sensitive to my best friend and be more reassuring to her. I would not say those things to my brother and I would explain to my mother how hurtful it is when she allows him to tease me. But I can't go back. And certain things are painful to think about.

    By the way, my brother apologized to me when we were adults. His own daughter went through a chunky stage, and she was very sensitive and pretty upset when teased. Seeing his daughter hurting, and not being able to do anything about it, made him hurt. And he realized how I must have felt.

    I hope that I can find the Special Friends dolls one of these days. I would love to add them to my collection.

    1. Hi Roxanne,

      It was painful to watch and to hear women and young girls express the pain they have endured throughout their lives due to their dark complexion. The youngest girl (I believe she is in the Dark Girls trailer) was the most difficult for me to watch. I could feel her pain, which was written all over her face as she answered the interviewer's questions about her dark skin and as she listened to her mother share how the family attempts to elevate her self-worth.

      Your friend reminds me of one woman in the documentary who also did not want to give birth to a dark-skinned child. When a person receives lifelong torment from within and outside their culture and often from their family members about something they cannot ever change, it is understandable that they would not want those feelings experienced by their offspring.

      Even though the film is painful to watch, the challenges darker skinned people face, particularly women, because of their complexions, needed this exposure. Dukes' documentary gives them a voice and hopefully has encouraged continued dialogue on the subject to create a positive change in attitudes.

      When people taunt others, particularly a child about a physical attribute, this creates lifelong wounds and scars that sometimes never heal. It's difficult for a child to understand that people who are insecure about themselves often attempt to point out flaws in others to mask their own self-hatred. You probably don’t know it, but I’m sure your brother, who was perfect in your eyes, had his own set of insecurities.

      I am sorry that your mother did not realize that his calling you fat equaled or surpassed his hurt of being called black by you. I’m glad he eventually realized how hurtful his words were and later apologized.

      We all wish we could push the rewind button of our lives to right the wrongs or make perfect those childhood and past imperfections we experienced, but we cannot. We have to do keep it moving and learn from the past so the things that hurt us cannot be repeated.

      I hope you're able to find the Special Friends dolls, too. I believe the company also made a fashion doll that I would love to own.



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