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These dolls just got a $200,000 investment on ‘Shark Tank’ because representation matters.

"It’s time for our young girls to have a new standard."

Not long ago, Angelica and Jason Sweeting were driving home when their 3-year-old daughter Sophia started crying and wouldn't stop.

When they asked her what was wrong, Sophia told them that she hated her dark hair and dark skin and wanted to look like Barbie or Elsa, with long blond hair and white skin.

She told them she'd never be beautiful because she didn't look like those dolls.


Sophia's fear hit the couple at their core. They took a hard look at the images their daughter was regularly exposed to, and they promptly saw the problem glaring back at them.

The way Sophia looked wasn't well-represented — not in the media nor in the toys she played with.

They looked everywhere for a black doll that resembled Sophia but couldn't find one.

Yes, there are black dolls and Barbies on the market, but most are simply dark-skinned versions of white dolls. Few offer features that many black girls like Sophia see when they look in the mirror — like wider noses or fuller lips — and even fewer dolls come in a variety of skin tones.

Meet my Co-Founders and biggest inspiration! Sophia + Sydney

A photo posted by Beauty Doesn't Come In A Box! (@naturallyperfectdolls) on

According to the Census Bureau, there are now more racial and ethnic minority children under 5 years old than white children under 5. While dolls have diversified significantly in recent years, it's still a struggle for many parents to find dolls that accurately reflect their children's specific demographic identities.

Dissatisfied with the limited doll options available, Angelica and Jason decided to create their own doll.

Their first 18-inch doll, named Angelica, was modeled after photos of Angelica and Sophia. Her hair was designed to look just like Sophia's, and they even made it washable so it can be styled like real hair.

Having a doll to play with that looked like her, Sophia's confidence levels improved significantly. Together with her younger sister Sydney, Sophia is learning to style her own hair by playing with Angelica's, and she's learning how much there is to love about her curly, voluminous hair.

Seeing how much of an effect the Angelica doll had on Sophia inspired the Sweetings to take their project to the next level. So they launched a Kickstarter to make more dolls. After all, Sophia and Sydney weren't the only little black girls out there desperately in need of seeing themselves represented in the toy aisle.

"Our girls need to see a reflection of their own unique beauty," Angelica explained on their Kickstarter page. "It’s time for our young girls to have a new standard."

After raising $25,000 in just 48 hours, the Sweetings started production on their new doll line: Naturally Perfect dolls.

As soon as they were on the market, kids and parents seemed to love them.

My daughter's 5th birthday was yesterday and Kennedy was one of her gifts, along with this salon chair (Our Generation...

Posted by Candace Kirkman on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Currently, there are four dolls available: Angelica, Brielle, Camryn, and Kennedy. They all have different skin tones, hair colors, and textures, and diverse careers and interests.

Image via Naturally Perfect Girls, used with permission.

Due to high production costs, the doll's retail price is a lofty $83, even with the funds raised from Kickstarter. So the Sweetings went on "Shark Tank" to try to get some financial support.

@sharktankabc set your calendars! 01/06/2017 EST 9PM Did we survive the tank?

A photo posted by Beauty Doesn't Come In A Box! (@naturallyperfectdolls) on

At first, whether they'd get funding was a bit touch-and-go. The biggest concern the "sharks" had was that Mattel is already working on diversifying its dolls — how could a small company make a dent in the market?

Shark Daymond John, who has mixed-race daughters of his own, came through for the couple, investing$200,000 for 30% of the company. In an interesting twist, the couple also agreed to give 10% of their shares to a girls' empowerment charity.

Thanks to the investment, the Sweetings can lower the dolls' cost and increase the number of dark-skinned dolls on the market.

For all the parents struggling to find dolls that resemble their kids, making the Naturally Perfect dolls more affordable will make a huge difference.

Kennedy 💓 click the link in the bio for 15% off Code = OCT2016 Receive one free outfit!

A photo posted by Beauty Doesn't Come In A Box! (@naturallyperfectdolls) on

In Nigeria in 2015, the Queen of Africa dolls, created by Taofick Okoya, started outselling Barbie because they spoke to the population majority. With the United States becoming a minority-majority nation, large doll companies like Mattel and American Girl might want to take a lesson from the Sweetings and step up their game.

Girls of all races deserve to love themselves. That starts by seeing themselves in the faces of world around them, both human and plastic.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Health

This company makes it easier than ever to enjoy guilt-free fairly traded coffee

Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

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Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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