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.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Laverne Cox in 2016.

When kids are growing up they love to see themselves in the dolls and action figures. It adds a special little spark to a shopping trip when you hear your child say “it looks just like me.” The beaming smile and joy that exudes from their little faces in that moment is something parents cherish, and Mattel is one manufacturer that has been at the forefront of making that happen. It has created Barbies with freckles, afro puffs, wheelchairs, cochlear implants and more. The company has taken another step toward representation with its first transgender doll.

Laverne Cox, openly transgender Emmy award winning actor and LGBTQ activist, is celebrating her 50th birthday May 29, and Mattel is honoring her with her very own Barbie doll. The doll designed to represent Cox is donned in a red ball gown with a silver bodysuit. It also has accessories like high heels and jewelry to complete the look. Cox told Today, “It’s been a dream for years to work with Barbie to create my own doll.” She continued, “I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves and have the opportunity to add a Barbie doll modeled after a transgender person to their collection.”

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.