Newspaper article News Sentinel

A Bright Message; Hoping to Boost Self-Image of Minority Girls, Fledgling Group Launches Pretty Brown Girl Day

Newspaper article News Sentinel

A Bright Message; Hoping to Boost Self-Image of Minority Girls, Fledgling Group Launches Pretty Brown Girl Day

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS - Aubriana Jackson will tell anyone that she's a pretty brown girl. She even has a T-shirt that says so.

As a Pretty Brown Girl, she's taken a pledge to "dream big, remember that I am beautiful inside and out, enjoy learning and laughing, always believe in myself and make healthy choices."

The 16-year-old St. Paul Central High School junior will have plenty of company today, the first National Pretty Brown Girl Day, when girls and women of all shades of brown are encouraged to embrace the beauty of their skin color.

"I thought the pledge was corny at first," said Jackson. "But the more they explained it to me and the founders' inspiration, it became more significant to me."

The movement was launched two years ago by a Michigan couple concerned about the images their daughters were internalizing about their skin color. The organization offers dolls, T-shirts and other merchandise emblazoned with the Pretty Brown Girl (PBG) slogan. But the key is to help brown girls build confidence and leadership skills. "Women should be taught to appreciate their skin from birth," said co-founder Sheri Crawley.

Jackson was introduced to Pretty Brown Girls through her group, Delta GEMS (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully), a mentoring program run by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. It is the first group locally to use the philosophy to talk about building self-esteem in girls.

"PBG gives them a platform to speak about things they wouldn't normally with their family and friends," said program co-chair Carla Hines.

GEMS wore the T-shirts recently and discussed their experiences and the feedback they received.

Jackson said the discussion of skin color in real-life situations has made her and other girls acknowledge the importance of self- worth.

"I really love wearing my T-shirt because it boosts my self- esteem when I'm wearing it, because people don't normally associate pretty and brown," Jackson said.

Not that Jackson needs a T-shirt to build her self-esteem. A dynamo in her own right, she is a cheerleader for football and girls' and boys' basketball and assistant director for the school's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." Jackson is already planning to take post-secondary classes in her senior year and is working on a cosmetology license. She also has her eye on attending Spelman College in Atlanta. …

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