New Documentary ‘Imagine A Future: My Black Is Beautiful’ Promotes Self-Worth for Young Black Women

Recently, we learnImagine a Futureed of a new documentary targeting young black women called “Imagine a Future: My Black Is Beautiful.” Sponsored by the big name consumer products company, Proctor & Gamble, the documentary seeks to investigate the issues young black women face with insecurities and self-worth. Working in concert with Beverly Bond and her nonprofit Black Girls Rock!, an organization dedicated to uplifting young black girls in the Brooklyn area, P&G’s My Black is Beautiful (MBIB) campaign has taken on the daunting task of reaching girls nationwide with their message of empowerment.

The film follows a young girl named Janet Goldsboro, a black teen from Delaware. Goldsboro explains that she has struggled with her darker complexion throughout her life. And, being interested in boys, she often feels like she isn’t pretty enough for their standards.

“Boys say, ‘I like the light-skinned girls,’ or, ‘I like white girls because I want my baby to come out pretty,’ ” Ms. Goldsboro says. “And that hurts you because it makes you feel like you’re ugly looking.”

Fighting with her inner conflicts of color, Goldsboro’s story highlights the issue of “colorism” in communities of color. Colorism, an age-old problem, is the result of value being placed on lighter skin. Simultaneously, in the case of many South American and African slaves, darker skin meant harder, more arduous labor. Over time, these colored hierarchies have manifested themselves in the media and in social interactions for people of color. That is why this new initiative is so very important.

The film, which debuted, coincidentally, on the same date as the Tribeca Film Festival, April 21st, will be airing on BET on July 5th. And, there are quite a few big names in black media lending their support to the film. Bond is the film’s executive producer. Directed by Shola Lynch (“Free Angela and All Political Prisoners”) and Lisa Cortes (“Precious”), the film’s well-established roots are a hopeful sign that the message will reach a vast audience. Accomplished Olympic Gold Medalist, Gabby Douglas is also featured in the film. Criticisms of her hair and appearance during last year’s Olympic Games were highly publicized in the media. She has lent her voice to other young women facing similar issues with personal judgments and self-worth since the games ended.

The illustrious Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC host, Professor, author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, and major advocate for black women’s rights, also appears in the film. And, another talented woman who continues to advocate for image awareness and positive media coverage for black women, Michaela Angela Davis, is interviewed in the documentary. Both of these women have been featured at the The Worth Campaign as “Shining” examples for our community. So, it is no surprise that they both have joined with this new initiative to help instill confidence and self-worth in young black girls across the country.

An undercurrent to the film is P&G’s cosmetic sales of skin lightening products internationally. And, some have criticized the major for-profit company for its seemingly contradictory stance on the topic of skin color. These products have been sold in several countries including those on the continent of Africa, a place where colorism is still a very real problem. And, while Proctor & Gamble would do well to curb these products, they have yet to do so.

So, while there are some underlying issues with the source of the MBIB campaign, the fact remains that the films core message is an important one. These types of issues are exactly what The Worth Campaign seeks to combat with our self-worth initiatives. In many ways, the message of self-worth for young women of color seems to be catching fire. Luckily, these issues will have an audience and strong backers who believe the time is right now to change the mental, social, and economic outcomes for these beautiful young women. The hope is simply that the message of the film will be well-received no matter the messenger.

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