We asked two dozen African-American psychologists—student and professional members of The Association of Black Psychologists—to share their best advice for raising strong, confident girls. Here's an edited list of their responses.

  1. Tell her that she defines who she is.
  2. Place images of beautiful dark-skinned women prominently in one's home.
  3. Explain that beauty comes from within; that we are more than the skin we are in.
  4. Buy black dolls!
  5. Reference her skin as being just like a revered family or community member ("Your skin is beautiful, just like your grandmother's.")
  6. For 3 to 6-year-olds: Make frequent remarks, such as "my beautiful baby," and create stories about beautiful dark children who are smart, kind, etc.
  7. For 7 to 12-year-olds: Associate her dark skin with things valued. For example, "This color dress is lovely with your dark velvet coloring," or "Look how the sun has made you sparkle!"
  8. For 13 to 18-year-olds: Associate her dark skin with dark women achievers, African models, scholars, etc. Arm her with age/developmentally appropriate information about sensitive topics. You can begin a dialogue about negative stereotypes by explaining the media's role in perpetuating them.
  9. Watch a movie or commercial together and ask your child to identify the negative images; ask how the negative stereotypes make her feel. Then, ask which media figure she likes the most and which she dislikes, as well as: "What messages do you think are being projected?" "Does it matter?" "Why?"
  10. Discuss the different forms of beauty. Explain to the child that women come in all different colors, shapes and sizes. Beauty is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted.
  11. Tell her, "I want you to love yourself as much—if not more—than how much I love you."

Note: These responses do not necessarily reflect official positions of The Association of Black Psychologists.

The Association of Black Psychologists is organized to operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. The Association sees its mission and destiny as the liberation of the African Mind, empowerment of the African Character, and enlivement and illumination of the African Spirit.


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