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It’s so important to instill a sense of self-worth in children.
When Shabria Redmond, a hairdresser and rapper in Atlanta, Georgia, was styling a young client’s hair, she had no idea she was about to start a whole new “black is beautiful” movement online. It all started when 4-year-old Ariyonna looked at herself in the salon mirror and uttered three heartbreaking words.
“I’m so ugly,” the little girl said as she gazed at her reflection in the mirror. Thankfully, Shabria was the perfect person for her to confide in.
“Don’t say that!” she told Ariyonna firmly. “When you look at yourself, you’re supposed to say, ‘I’m so pretty.’ You are so pretty, do you hear me? You’ve got the prettiest little dimples. You are too cute.”
Ariyonna burst into tears, so Shabria pulled her close for a reassuring hug as she continued: “You’re gonna make me cry. You’re not ugly! You are so pretty. … You are beautiful, black is beautiful, and if nobody ever tells you, I will tell you, you are gorgeous.”
After their moving interaction, Shabria seized the opportunity to spread an important message about self-love and acceptance. She shared a video of the moment on Instagram, writing,
We Must UPLIFT Our Queens. While doing her hair she had alllll the energy in the world, then out of nowhere she stares at herself and gets soooo discouraged ? It broke my heart into pieces because she has the GREATEST energy and the most beautiful smile and heart!
“She comes from a great home and loving mother,” Shabria continued. “I just think when kids go to school they learn and pick up sooo much different things that they don’t know the definition but they know the feeling! Keep her in your prayers and keep lifting up our future!”
It wasn’t long before the post went viral. Soon some of the world’s biggest names were chiming in with personal messages for Ariyonna — including former first lady Michelle Obama.
“Ariyonna, you are gorgeous,” she wrote on Instagram. “In a world that sometimes tries to say otherwise, I want to tell you — and every other beautiful, intelligent, brave black girl — just how precious you are.”
Actress Viola Davis added, “THIS is the motivating factor for Black women to leave a legacy… of WORTH of BEAUTY! We are fighting hundreds of years of brutal conditioning of being considered less than. It is sprinkled in our language, behavior, laws, music, etc., and trickles down to our youth. I’m speaking LIFE into Ariyonna. From a sista who looks a lot like you… you were born worthy therefore you were born beautiful!”
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and actresses Jada Pinkett Smith and Laverne Cox also reached out with supportive messages.
“Somebody told this child this and her heart broke and her confidence broke and she believed it,” DuVernay wrote on Twitter. “Thank God for this beautiful spirit in her life to tell her differently. This video shows how deeply we harm each other. And how fully we can lift each other up.”
Meanwhile filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry, the director of the Oscar-winning short “Hair Love,” asked other artists to submit their best drawing of the little girl, saying, “Make sure to include the dimples.”
Their stunning renditions speak for themselves!
Ariyonna’s parents started an Instagram page to share the artists’ sweet, uplifting images — and pictures of their little one!
As for Shabria, she took to Twitter with an update: “Thank you all. You guys are amazing! Every color is beautiful. Ariyonna loves all the love and I genuinely appreciate what God is doing! Be blessed.”
Even better, she shared another video in which Ariyonna repeats her new mantra over and over: “Black and beautiful!”
What an incredible way to help a child feel more confident. We absolutely agree with everyone’s responses: Ariyonna is beautiful inside and out!
Watch the video that started it all, and don’t forget to share this story with your friends.
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