Southfield, MI -- More than toys, dolls for girls, are a reflection of how they look and see themselves.
At a very early age, girls begin to shape their self image, and it is that image that they hold on to throughout their lives.
Throughout the world, girls learn what is positive through the messages taught to them not only by their families and teachers but also through play.
Psychologists and educators who study doll play say dolls are among the most important toys of childhood
Doll play provides an opportunity for children to begin to see their own place in the world which is essential for physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
In 2010, Sheri and Corey Crawley relocated from a downtown Chicago neighborhood to a small suburb of Detroit called Novi, Michigan, with their two daughters, Laila (age 6) and Aliya (age 5).
The demographics were only 1% African American, however, the Crawley's were unaware of how this would ultimately affect their children. When Laila was enrolled in kindergarten,
Sheri immediately observed changes in her daughter's behavior. She lost her bubbly personality and became more withdrawn and timid during school hours. She began to make comments when she saw shampoo commercials on television and even said she wanted long blonde hair like that of her classmates as opposed to her own beautifully textured hair.
Around the same time, Anderson Cooper on CNN 360, aired a four part series on research results of a Doll Test. The test was initially conducted in the 1940's by Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and greatly influenced the decision of Brown vs. Board of Education.
This test showed that when given a choice, children have a bias toward brown skin tones. Sheri also had a similar experience when planning a birthday celebration for her youngest daughter, Aliya, at a very popular doll store located downtown Chicago.
Sheri noticed that none of the little girls, including her daughters, chose a doll with brown skin tone. Sheri was shocked and appalled with their decision and very surprised that the only doll with brown skin tone that was available at the store was a freed slave.
More than ever, Sheri recognized the need to address the harmful messages about skin tone and beauty in the media. She was very concerned about the impact these messages would have on girls who rarely see images of their own likeness depicted in a positive manner.
Simultaneously, she began asking God how she could use her gifts and talents to empower others. Her husband always used "Pretty Brown Girl" as a term of endearment towards their daughters.
They decided to create a doll to share this simple yet powerful message to the world to encourage girls to be happy in their beautiful brown skin.
"The Pretty Brown Girl Doll" for little girls of all ethnicities was created to send the message that brown is beautiful. This simple message has turned into a Pretty Brown Girl Movement and last August the Crawley's successfully launched, Pretty Brown Girl, LLC.
Obviously there are brown dolls already in the marketplace; the problem is that brown girls are not choosing them because of what they are learning from society. "We have to make a change and the Pretty Brown Girl Doll helps create a platform for this critical dialogue at an early age," says Sheri.
The anticipated first production of dolls will arrive this week and there are several hundred anxious girls (and many women) of all ethnicities that will receive their dolls on their doorsteps in the coming weeks. The Crawley's are already forecasting large numbers of orders during this Christmas season.
Beginning July 10, 2012, for every purchase of the signature "Pretty Brown Girl Doll", the company will donate a second doll to a girl in need of encouragement through a global giving initiative titled Empower a Girl, Empower the World.
"Our goal is to gift one million dolls to one million girls!" says Sheri. Corey adds "Our belief is that by developing positive self-esteem and confidence, while giving the gift of self-love, more girls will be inspired to dream their biggest dreams."
In addition to the Pretty Brown Girl doll, Sheri Crawley has authored a children's book entitled "Pretty Brown Girl, My First Day of School" along with a Daily Journal for Girls that includes The Official Pretty Brown Girl Pledge.
The brand also offers Pretty Brown Girl T-Shirts and accessories for both girls and women. In response to the Pretty Brown Girl Movement, many organizations, schools and churches that have incorporated the Pretty Brown Girl theme into their youth programs.
NOTE: For more information on the Pretty Brown Girl product line and programs or to become a Giving Partner, visit www.prettybrowngirl.com.