Viral Video Of A Little Girl Stopping A Black Model To Admire Her Dress Will Warm Your Heart
Monica Ahanonu may be a model, but she’s not always comfortable with people looking at her.
That’s why, after pumping up for a big event, wearing a white designer dress, wearing makeup and wearing heels, she still felt the flutter of the nerves.
“I don’t like people like watching me,” she explained in an interview with TODAY. “I like to dress up and wear crazy things, but I don’t like people staring at me at the same time.”
Still, at the insistence of a friend, Ahanonu took a few photos on the street to capture her look. While her friend was taking photos, Ahanonu realized that a father and his toddler were nearby, watching and waiting to pass. “I felt bad that they were waiting. So I told him to go, and the father said his daughter could walk across the street,” Ahanonu explained, adding that she didn’t mind waiting. After all, since she’s not good at getting people to look at her, she felt shy.
That’s the fun thing about kids, notes Ahanonu, 31. They don’t realize the insecurities that adults accumulate over their lifetime.
In a video captured by Ahanonu’s friend and shared on Instagram, the little girl pushes a toy stroller past the mannequin. The girl then pauses, lingering for a moment to measure the 5’5″ model before turning her stroller around so she can touch one of the flowers applied to Ahanonu’s dress. Running interference, the girl’s father pulls her hand away while Ahanonu laughs.
The video struck a chord online and as of Friday had nearly 4.7 million likes.
For the commentators of the video, one of the most touching moments is when the little girl turned around and revealed that the doll in her stroller was also black.
“Girl!!!! Levels at this,” one user replied to the post, which is peppered with hundreds of heart-eyed emojis in the comments.
“Babies know an angel when they see one,” another wrote.
It was an emotional moment, especially considering the long-standing preferences for dolls in the past and the racial biases that were a factor.
In the 1940s, Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife, Mamie Clark (both psychologists), conducted a series of experiments known as “the doll tests”. The experiment aimed to examine the psychological effects of segregation on black children between the ages of three and seven. The children were asked to identify the breed of the dolls, assign each “good” and “bad” traits, and share which doll they liked best.
According to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the Clarks found that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation created feelings of inferiority in African American children and damaged their self-esteem.”
In 2010, CNN commissioned another study to determine if these racial biases had changed. By interviewing 133 children, they found that nearly seven decades after the initial test, both white and black children still preferred the white doll.
Ahanonu – a black woman with a mother who immigrated from Uganda and a father who came from Nigeria – remembers what it was like to have the race in its early days on the playing field.
“My siblings and I were the only black kids in our elementary, middle and high school,” she explained. “(We) had black dolls, but I don’t think any of my friends really had them.”
It’s possible the little girl in the video has yet to experience how aspects of race affect women of color like Ahanonu on a daily basis. She was also probably unaware that their brief interaction would be enough to make Ahanonu feel encouraged.
“It was more (of) a confirmation like, ‘Okay, I look good, I guess,'” she told TODAY, noting that it wouldn’t have seemed as authentic from an adult.
Ahanonu said the interaction made her feel optimistic about the future.
“It’s a good sign that hopefully things will be less divided as we move forward,” she said. “These generations who are coming, (they) seem to be much less divided than the generation before us… It’s unconscious stuff that we don’t even realize and that we haven’t realized for a long time, obviously, even when we were younger so it’s cool to see that, and I’m curious, I hope that the subconscious (of the younger generations) will be different from what ours was or what our parents were.
In the meantime, Ahanonu remains hopeful that she will soon be able to find out more about the little girl.
“I wish I could talk to his dad so much,” Ahanonu said. “I want to ask her about her and (see) what they thought of her.”