How My Black Is Beautiful’s “Imagine A Future” Documentary Proves The Cycle Of Self-Hate Can Be Broken
I’ve always had much respect for Proctor and Gamble’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. After all it was started by six black women at the company and they do good work. And while the campaign seeks to uplift black women, I also realize it’s a way for P&G to continue to make money. Now, I’m not mad at them. We all want to make money. But since they are trying to make money, I’ll admit that I process their media differently than I would other P&G advertising. I’m constantly watching to make sure it’s still honest and that we, black women, aren’t being further exploited by another huge corporation.
And I can honestly say I haven’t seen that. The campaign has been run quite nicely. And that track record of fairness didn’t falter when they released a documentary entitled “Imagine a Future.”
Directed and produced by filmmaking heavy hitters like Lisa Cortes, Academy Award nominated for her producing role in Precious, directed by Shola Lynch, director of Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners and executive produced by “Black Girls Rock” founder Beverly Bond, the film had the right people behind the project.
And all of that came across in the story which follows Janet Goldsboro, a high school student who struggles with beauty and self esteem issues. Throughout the documentary we watch as Janet transforms when she visits South Africa to learn about the historical and societal context associated with being a black woman.
During her trip Janet learns about beauty standards that vary and are similar to the ones she’s been grown up with in the U.S. Her South African friend tells her that nobody wants to be skinny in South Africa but when she goes to the market, she sees how many places sell skin bleaching cream. There she learns about the earliest human ancestors, found in Africa and learns the tragic story of Sarah Baartman as she visited her gravesite.
After her trip to South Africa the change in Janet was visible. She went from a girl who was insecure about her looks and self confidence to a young woman who actively sought the standards of beauty that best matched her own. She started researching the history that was left out of her school’s curriculum so by knowing the truth of her past she could take pride in the young woman she is today.
Interspersed between Janet’s inspirational story, we hear black women like Gabourey Sidibe, Michaela Angela Davis, Tatyana Ali, Melissa Harris-Perry and Gabby Douglass talk about achieving their own self confidence and what makes them beautiful. It may sound cheesy but it was powerful. So powerful in fact that my mom leaned over to my sister and I and asked “why our black was beautiful?” We had to tell her not to ask the stranger sitting next to her because it really is a loaded question. The film really makes you think about your own levels of self confidence and beauty standards affect your everyday lives.
I walked out of the filming feeling hopeful and uplifted. Not to use one to tear down another but in many ways “Imagine A Future” filled the holes that “Dark Girls” didn’t. It talked about the lack of self esteem, the beauty standards many black women don’t meet but it also showed how that cycle can be broken. How these feelings don’t have to be permanent. And how, at the end of the day, we can be the solutions to our own insecurities.
Check out the trailer for the documentary on the next page.