Tuesday, 18 September 2007

"A Girl Like Me"

A Short Film By Kiri Davis

"For my high-school literature class I was constructing an anthology with a wide range of different stories that I believed reflected the black girl’s experience. For the different chapters, I conducted interviews with a variety of black girls in my high school, and a number of issues surfaced concerning the standards of beauty imposed on today’s black girls and how this affects their self-image."

This is a really interesting and thought provoking short film. It shows teenage African American girls talking about how they feel they are represented in today’s society. In the interviews, issues such as stereotyping in the media as well as cultural ideals, such as what is seen as beautiful are discussed. What is particularly prevalent, is that although when look at media today, it would seem that those of African origin are quite well represented (at least when compared to other ethnic minorities such as South Asians (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan etc) and Oriental Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc), it would seem that this is still not enough in terms of creating a positive image for youth today.

Within her report, Davis also conducted the “doll test”, initially done by Dr. Kenneth Clark, where children were given a series of questions based on their perceptions of a black doll and a white doll. Questions such as “Which is the bad doll” and “Which doll would you most like to play with” were posed to the children, producing some astoundingly bad results about the perception that black children had of themselves and those of the same colour.

Here is one example of the answers given by a young black girl;

Davis: "Can you show me the doll that looks bad"
Girl: [Picks up black doll]
Davis: "And why does that look bad?"
Girl: "Because he's black"
Davis: "And why do you think this [white doll] is the nice doll" (answer established from earlier question)
Girl: "Because she's white"
Davis: "Can you give me the doll that looks like you?"
Girl: [She hesitates, and passes the black doll]

By recreating this experiment, Davis managed to show that actually very little has changed since the original test done in 1947, whilst highlighting the effect society and the media have on the self perception and opinion of what’s ‘right and wrong’ for black children today.

This film was very interesting to see, due to the up and coming dissertation project. With my dissertation focusing on the lack of Asian models used within advertising and marketing today, it would be interesting to see whether this has had an adverse affect on Asian children in the UK like the children Kiri Davis interviewed in the US. To watch 'A Girl Like Me' follow this link - http://www.mediathatmattersfest.org/6/a_girl_like_me/index.php?fs=about

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