Dana Hill is bold and “b’huetiful.” The striking model, publicist and philanthropist is the founder the Black Doll Affair, a philanthropic organization and self-esteem movement for black girls and women. In 2005, Hill had the chutzpah to post a self-image billboard at the corners of 52nd Street and Broadway in New York’s Times Square.
However, the “Got Spokesmodel?” campaign didn’t produce the desired effect. So in 2007, she applied her energy to establishing BDA as a solution to the infamous ugly doll test from the documentary A Girl Like Me where black children associated black dolls with being “bad” and “ugly” and made it clear that they preferred white dolls, which they deemed “pretty” and “good.”
BDA’s head dollhouse, i.e., headquarters, is located in Atlanta and has affiliate chapters in Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
“The Black Doll Affair is not about the color of your skin. It’s about loving the color of your skin, no matter what shade of black. It’s about self-esteem in hue. It’s about feeling good the way you were born – dark or light. It’s about girls and women conquering self-defeating, self-limiting thought patterns of ‘I’m not good enough because I was born a black girl. It’s about loving hue you are,” proclaims Hill. Now, how’s that for every person who had the audacity to tell you, “You’re so pretty to be so black?”
While the billboard didn’t make national headlines or go viral, Hill’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Over the course of the past few years Oprah’s OWN Network, the Food Network, BET, TV One, VH1, Bravo, Essence magazine, the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” Microsoft, Meetup Inc., Mattel and the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty have each given the movement a boost.
In 2009, supported by Georgia’s governor, Atlanta’s mayor, the Atlanta City Council, Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate, BDA received a Proclamation for Black Doll Affair Day on Dec. 12. The Black Dolls accepted an invitation to Congressman John Lewis’ Washington, D.C. office and President Barack Obama’s White House. Recently, BDA received a Volunteer Service Award from the president.
On Saturday, May 5, 2012 at Macy’s at Lenox Square, BDA will host B’huetiful The Black Doll Affair Spring Fashion Show, which will be emceed by Nina Brown and Rashan Ali and choreographed by The Jeffrey Lubin Group.
“Macy’s and the Black Doll Affair share a couple of key interests — we are fashion and community oriented. We are pleased to partner with the BDA in this endeavor to showcase and celebrate [the] diversity of an important part of our customer base and the community,” said Bill Hawthorne, Macy’s senior vice president, Diversity Strategies and Legal Affairs.
This season’s honorees are WSB-TV news anchor Monica Pearson, Georgia state Senator Nan Orrock and this writer. –yvette caslin