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Movie “Black Barbie Beauty” plays at SMC

Angela Saoud | Monday, February 2, 2004

Kareemah El-Amin’s “Black Barbie Beauty,” a film that portrays a young African-American woman struggling to fit in with society’s image of beauty, premiered Friday night in Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s. “I wanted to make this film because, growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, I struggled a lot with the image I saw looking in the mirror,” El-Amin said. “I look at young women today, and I see these women dyeing their hair and wearing contacts to try to fit in.” Throughout “Black Barbie Beauty,” the lead actress is shown staring at herself in the mirror. She applies baby powder to her skin in order to lighten her appearance and wears blue contacts with a blond wig. In a voiceover, the audience hears a poem that El-Amin wrote nearly seven years ago about the pain of looking different from what mainstream America calls beautiful. “I wanted people to leave this film loving themselves for who they are,” El-Amin said. “You should be proud of your heritage, proud of the way you look, even if you don’t fit into the blond-haired, blue-eyed image.”After the screening, which was only five minutes in length, an hour-long question-and-answer session was held. Many audience members provided El-Amin with positive feedback on the film. Others shared their personal experiences with not fitting the ideal American image of beauty.One audience member commented on the lack of African-American beauty in mainstream America.”You just don’t see black magazines on the news stands in the grocery store, and when you do see an image of African-American beauty, it’s someone like Beyonce [Knowles] who has a blond hair weave and colored contacts,” the audience member said. “This world is too slow still.” El-Amin and the actors in the film then fielded questions and commented on the creation of the movie. El-Amin has entered “Black Barbie Beauty” into the film festival circuit in hopes that it will reach many more young women who struggle with the way they look. “I think it’s important to affirm young women,” she said. “Don’t let the mainstream influence who you are, because you are beautiful.”