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Mum makes black doll for kid who wanted to be 'like Barbie'

JUST LIKE ME: Four-year-old Sophia Sweeting with the Angelica doll

A MUM-of-two who was shocked about her daughter's perception of beauty, decided to take matters into her own hands - by creating a 'natural' black doll that looks just like her.

Angelica Sweeting and husband Jason, from Miami, produced the Naturally perfect' Angelica Doll to reflect the appearance of their daughters, Sophia and Sydney, and they hope that it can help other families, too.

In a video on their Kickstarter page, Jason explained that the Angelica Doll was "born out of necessity" because their four-year-old daughter, Sophia, said she was no longer happy with how she looked.

Angelica Sweeting was devastated by what she heard coming from the backseat of the car, her then three-year-old daughter was saying she hated her kinky, curly hair and dark skin, and longed for straight locks, fair skin and thinner facial features.

"She wanted to look like Barbie and she wanted hair like Elsa, long blond hair and white skin," Sweeting told Today of her daughter, Sophia, now 4. "I was really, really sad that my daughter would think that at such a young age...I knew I had to do something about it." .

Sweeting, 27, and her husband began practicing daily affirmations with Sophia to reinforce their daughter's beauty, and she looked for a doll that truly looked like Sophia. When she couldn't find one, Sweeting decided to create one herself.

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL: Angelica Sweeting with her daughters Sydney, 2, and Sophia, 4

With Sophia's help, Sweeting got to work on Angelica, an 18-inch doll with natural, washable kinky hair, fuller facial features and brown eyes. The doll's facial structure was sculpted from photographs of the mother and daughter, and her hair looks like Sophia's.

"We created the Angelica doll to help my daughter with self love, so she would always see a positive reflection of herself in the toys that she plays with," said Sweeting, who also has a younger daughter, Sydney.

"The Angelica doll has facial features that are true to women of colour," she said.

"She is here to expand our spectrum of beauty and to give little girls more, so they're able to see that beauty comes in different shades."

Sweeting sees Angelica as a contrast to other dolls on the market.

"There are other black dolls now but a lot of black Barbie dolls still have facial features that are Caucasian or more European and all have long straight hair even though it's black," she added.

Sweeting took to Kickstarter earlier this month to raise the $25,000 (£16,000) to enable her company, Naturally Perfect Dolls, to produce the first 1,000 dolls.

So far she has raised over $69,000 (45,000), and hopes to produce and ship the $85 (£55) dolls in time for the Christmas season.

Her husband, Jason, a musician, said they realised "a lot of young ladies — really, really young, like 3 and 4 — have self-image issues already."

BLACK FEATURES: The curly-haired doll has a broader nose, fuller lips compared to other black dolls

He hopes the dolls will help these young girls see the beauty in themselves without wanting to change their looks. "There's a large and wide spectrum of beauty and I just want it all to be represented," said Sweeting, 34.

Angelica, who quit her job as a grants manager to launch the doll, hopes to create other dolls representing a range of dark skin tones and hair textures.

Like the mother-of-two, the Angelica doll is an 'entrepreneur' but future dolls may be "engineers" and "journalists" instead of princesses or fashion girls.

"We would like to think we've come a long way but we really haven't," Angelica said.

"To find a black doll that is true to us is really difficult.

"We want to make this more mainstream and ensure young black girls have a positive reflection of them in store shelves or online," she added. "

I can understand why little black girls would pick a white doll. It's because that's all they see, the only image that's being pushed to them on stores shelves and on TV."

The Sweetings now say that Sophia is happier and more confident and no longer expresses a dislike of her looks. They credit both the doll and the affirmations for the changes.

"As a mum it makes me feel proud," Sweeting told Today. "I love knowing my daughter loves herself and she's proud of who she is and what she looks like."

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