Our forever FLOTUS was moved to respond to the heart-wrenching words of 4-year-old Ariyonna who called herself ugly while getting her hair done in Atlanta.
Michelle Obama dropped this gem Ariyonna’s way in her Instagram story. “Ariyonna, you are gorgeous. In a world that sometimes tries to say otherwise, I want to tell you —and every other beautiful, intelligent, brave Black girl— just how precious you are” the former first lady said.
In addition to Obama, many other people —from celebrities to everyday people— have sent love to Ariyonna and have applauded the affirming words of her hairstylist, Shabria, who immediately swirled Ariyonna around to tell her that she is beautiful.
“Don’t say that! You are so pretty,” Shabria shared on the viral video, which she posted on social media under the caption: “We must uplift our queens.” Ariyonna is seen crying in the video, but Shabria continues affirming her beauty: “You have this beautiful chocolate skin. You are just so gorgeous.”
Viola Davis took to Instagram to implore Black women to leave their daughters with the knowledge that they are worthy and beautiful.
“We are fighting hundreds of years of brutal conditioning of being considered less than. It is sprinkled in our language, behavior, laws, music…etc.. and trickles down to our youth,” Davis wrote. “I’m speaking life into Ariyonna. From a sista who looks a lot like you….you were born worthy therefore you were born beautiful!”
Laverne Cox echoed Davis, saying this is the “work” that Black people need to prioritize doing. “Inspired by her words I have said loving transness is a revolutionary act. My trans politics are rooted in intersectional feminist politics taught to me by black women like bell hooks through her books. Teaching stunningly beautiful brown girls like this one to see her profound beauty and worth is our work. Let’s get busy.”
And Hair Love director and co-producer, Matthew Cherry, used the opportunity to call on fellow artists to create original images to uplift Ariyonna using the hashtag #ArtworkForAriyonna.
All the social media love, combined with Shabria’s words, appears to have worked.
Several days after Shabria’s initial post, she updated social media with a new video that featured Ariyonna smiling and saying, “I’m Black and beautiful. Thank you, everyone.”