A video of an adorable 4-year-old girl getting her hair done has gone completely viral. In the video, the little girl, Ariyonna, sees herself and exclaims, "I'm so ugly." Her incredible hairdresser, who goes by Lil Wave Daddy on Instagram, gasps in surprise, tells her never to say that, and encourages her.
This video illustrates just how rarely black girls and women are told that they are beautiful. When you and others don't see images of yourself and people who look like you celebrated in media, it's easy to see you and others who resemble you as less than the ideal.
In the video, the hairdresser is chatting with Ariyonna as she does her hair. While Ariyonna stares at herself on video, she says, sort of matter-of-factly, "I'm so ugly." Her hairdresser gasps and her jaw drops open. When Ariyonna asks, "What?" she says, "Don't say that! Don't say that. Don't say that.
"You are so pretty," she continues. "When you look at yourself, you're supposed to say, 'I'm so pretty.' You are so pretty. Do you hear me? You got the prettiest little dimples. You are too cute."
At that point, Ariyonna starts to cry, and her hairdresser hugs her and comforts her. "You are the prettiest girl in your class... You are beautiful. Black is beautiful... You're going to grow up and you're going to be everything that you can be. You're going to be the greatest nail tech, the greatest beautician, the greatest lawyer, the greatest doctor, the greatest teacher."
It's clear that she's been taught to think that she is ugly. Maybe other girls at school have bullied her. Maybe she's experienced more subtle discrimination based on her looks. Maybe she sees that there are so few dolls and characters on TV who look like her and are portrayed as beautiful.
"You are so beautiful. You hold your head up. You hold your head up. OK?" the hairdresser continues.
She posted the video to her Instagram account with the message, "We must UPLIFT Our Queens. While doing her hair she had alllll the energy in the world then out of nowhere she stares at herself and gets soooo discouraged. It broke my heart into pieces because she has the GREATEST energy and the most beautiful smile and heart!
"She comes from a great home and loving mother. I just think when kids go to school they learn and pick up sooo much different things that they don’t know the definition but they know the feeling! Keep her in your prayers and keep lifting up our future!!!"
The video went completely viral on Instagram and Twitter. It's shocking and sad to see an adorable little girl believe such horrible, untrue things about herself and it just highlights how toxic our culture is.
Ariyonna has garnered so much support and love from people all over the world. After the original video went totally viral, the hairdresser, who people identified as Shabria in the comments, posted a follow-up in which Ariyonna can be seen smiling and repeating, "I'm Black and beautiful" over and over again.
Since going viral, Shabria and Ariyonna have appeared on the radio and Ariyonna has inspired a movement and a hashtag, #ArtworkForAriyonna. Artists of all kinds are making original portraits of Ariyonna to show that she and all little Black girls are gorgeous, loved, and important.
All you have to do is scroll through that hashtag to seriously feel the love. Representation is so important. It is imperative that Black girls have a chance to see themselves as beautiful. When little girls as young as Ariyonna — 4 years old — think they're ugly, something is deeply wrong with our society.