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Nickel Mustard | November 27, 2022

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The Souls of Black Girls


Review Overview

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The Mustard:

A balm for youth. An intelligent look at television’s influence on Black girls and the development of a warped self-image…

Wow. What an awesome subject matter.  And a good documentary for the budget.  The Souls of Black Girls provides a provocative look into the effect of media on young Black girl’s, leading to their attempts to duplicate a white standard of beauty.

Based on research conducted by writer and producer, Daphne S. Valerius, The Souls of Black Girls offers insightful commentary by celebrities like BET’s Darlise Blount, actress Regina King, and news moderator Gwen Ifil about the condition they call Self Image Disorder – the desire for Black girls to live up to a false standard of beauty.

Celebs break down the Self Image Disorder, its causes and effects, and the motive for media’s portrayal of Black beauty as only light skin, or the alternate booty-shaker depiction.

Imagery is important since young girls want to be what they see on TV, not who they are. And what they see is often who they become, explains screenwriter Kenyatta Smith. “(seemingly for directors) it’s plausible for White kid (characters) to be interested in science, chess, or astronomy… (and adversely more) Plausible for Black girls to want to be Whitney Houston, to jump double-dutch, or run track.  But not be interested in science,” says Smith

Gwen Ifil adds there’s lack of value for Black women in coverage. “(media) can spend hours and hours covering a woman who goes missing in Aruba. But minimal coverage on a woman missing from, say, St.Louis,” says Ifil.  “It’s like television is dictating to youth how to think and how to act,” says rapper and radio personality Chuck D.

I thoroughly enjoyed this impactful documentary. Pay close attention to the narrative.  Writer Daphne S. Valerius crams a lot of good information into a small amount of time. And as with all medicine, one spoonful doesn’t heal a condition.  It usually takes two or three doses to do the trick.  So our prescription?  Watch The Souls of Black Girls two or three times. The more you know, the better you are. As I scan around the room, looking at all of the powdery black faces in here, I would even recommend this film to adult Black women.  The Souls of Black Girls poses the question: Where did you get your idea of beauty?

The Souls of Black Girls can be found at

Plot: While in college, Valerius compiled data examining the correlation between media imagery and the low self-image of young Black girls. As an undergraduate, she wrote a research paper, called Self-esteem and Self-confidence: The Effects of Mass Media on Women of Color…Forgotten, on her findings.  The Souls of Black Girls is a documentary based off of this research.

Cast/Commenators: actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, actress Regina King, BET producer Darlise Blount, screenwriter Kenyatta Smith; rapper/radio host Chuck D, news moderator Gwen Ifil, Michaela Angela Davis, Dr. Lez Edmonds, creative director C’Nay Hines, Essence editor Pamela Edwards, actresses Juanita Jennings and Amelia Marshall, producer Kadija Minah, and youth advocate Katie Magrane.

Directors: Daphne S. Valerius  Writers: Daphne S. Valerius

Genre: Documentary  Rated:  N/A

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