Procter & Gamble brought its nationwide campaign to celebrate Black beauty to the big screen April 21, with the premiere of its Imagine a Future documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
The film is an extension of P&G’s “My Black is Beautiful” initiative, which seeks to empower African-American women by inviting them to express their beauty and also by spurring conversation on such complex issues as beauty, self-esteem, and colorism within the Black community. The multi-national company, which markets personal care products heavily, has sponsored daytime serials—soap operas—on radio and television since the 1930s.
In 2012, P&G partnered with BLACK GIRLS ROCK! and the United Negro College Fund to create an arm of the program specifically aimed at girls, with the goal of positively impacting the lives of 1 million Black girls over three years. The initiative, entitled “Imagine a Future,” equips the community with tools and solutions such as scholarships ($100,000 was donated to UNCF), leadership camps for teen girls, online consumer interactive tools, and was the inspiration for the documentary.
“Our hope is that this documentary will aid in altering the current perceptions, conversations and societal implications that come with negative self-image and low self-esteem of young Black girls,” said P&G’s Associate Marketing Director, NA Media and Multicultural Marketing, Lauren Hoenig.
The 30-minute documentary, which was produced and co-directed by Lisa Cortés, executive director for the Oscar-winning Precious; and co-directed by Shoal Lynch, director of the documentary Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, which is in theaters now, spotlights Dover, Del., teenager Janet Goldsboro.
A graduate of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! summer leadership program, Goldsboro shares her beauty story, including feelings of inferiority because of her darker skin tone.
“I didn’t look like what I saw in a magazine,” Goldsboro says. “I look different from all my cousins. I had dark features, dark hair, dark eyes, big nose and big lips, and I used to get made fun of because of how I looked.”
She adds: “Boys say, ‘I like the light-skinned girls,’ or, ‘I like White girls because I want my baby to come out pretty.’ And that hurts you because it makes you feel like you’re ugly looking.”
Intertwined with footage of Goldsboro’s trip to South Africa are interviews with renowned media personalities such as beauty and style expert Mikki Taylor, actress Gabourey Sidibe, writer and cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis, actress Tatyana Ali, gymnast Gabrielle Douglas and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who share their perspectives on Black beauty insecurities and the portrayal of Black women in the media.
“Janet’s story is one that is prevalent in our community, and many young Black girls can relate to her beauty and self-image issues,” said Cortés, the director and producer. “It was an amazing experience capturing her journey as she travelled to South Africa to explore depictions of Black beauty throughout history. My hope is that through sharing the stories of the individuals in this film, we are able to impact the lives of Black women and girls and help change their perceptions of Black beauty.”
Imagine a Future will air on BET on July 5 at 10 p.m. and on Centric on July 6 at 9 p.m. The film will also be available for online viewing on the My Black is Beautiful YouTube channel.