A Girl Like Me

Catching up with my favourite blog, Sociological Images, this weekend I was interested to see that CNN have recently had a bash at recreating Dr Kenneth Bancroft Clark and Ms Mamie Phipps Clark’s famous 1940’s doll experiment. The experiment involved presenting children with two dolls, one black and one white in skin colour, and then asking questions that alluded to their unconscious preference. Watch the outcomes of CNN’s modern experiment here… the results are in turns devastating and hopeful.

Anyway, this recent revisiting of the Clark doll experiment is a great excuse to take a look at Kiri Davis’ illuminating film ‘A Girl Like Me’. Davis also recreates the doll experiment, but goes further in her analysis by interviewing her peers about their beauty regimes and self perception. In this way, Davis demonstrates how such seeds of racial favouritism can go on to manifest and strengthen throughout adolescence, entering into adult ideas of feminine beauty.

By: Sarah Barnes, 16.05.2010 | Comments (2)
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  • Rosh
    May 18th, 2010
    12:38 pm

    I’ve never heard of this experiment before, but it’s shocking that even today these kids’ subconscious ideas about skin colour should be affected that way! It’s fascinating and upsetting at the same time. It’s centuries of ideology that needs to be disassembled one small block at a time.

    I wonder what the results would be if they did that experiment in the UK…

  • KB
    June 14th, 2011
    8:41 pm

    I just used this photo to do my own mini experiment with my two daughters (6 and 10). I was shocked at how they put skin color with certain characteristics- and we conscientiously don’t talk about race in our multiracial family. My youngest (blond haired green eyed) said that the middle girl would be her friend and that the darkest girl is the smartest. She then asked me what about the others because she didn’t pick everyone once. She just wanted to be fair. My oldest daughter (brown hair gray eyes) said the darker skinned girl would be the bad one because those are the girls in her school who cause the most trouble. She declared the lightest is the smarter one because she comes from a ‘good home’ and pays attention in class. I never knew that my children had bias even though I’m not teaching it to them.

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