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An 11-year-old girl who was bullied because of her complexion and hair texture has turned the pain that she endured into a positive venture, ABC News reported.

In efforts to encourage young Black girls to embrace the skin that they’re in and build a stronger sense of self-love, Zoe Terry and her mother Nakia Bowling created the non-profit Zoe’s Dolls, the news outlet writes. Through the organization, Zoe collects Black dolls and gifts them to young girls from underserved communities. As a young advocate for representation, Zoe makes sure the dolls have similar features to the girls that she gifts them to.

“I started Zoe’s Dolls when I was 5 years old because at that time, I was bullied because the color of my skin and because my hair was so puffy,” said Zoe, according to the news outlet. “I really wanted to find a way where I can let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful no matter what anyone else says. And I thought, ‘Dolls in their image would be a great way to show them that.’”

Since its inception in 2011, Zoe’s Dolls has collected and distributed 20,000 dolls. Her philanthropic work has inspired Zoe to start her own line of dolls dubbed Simply Zoe. “When she was bullied, she said, ‘I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to do something positive about it,’” Zoe’s mother told ABC News. “She doesn’t let her situation determine her outcome, she determines her outcome.”

Several projects have been created to increase racial representation in toys and encourage young girls and boys of color to take pride in their features. Two years ago, Yelitsa Jean-Charles founded Healthy Roots Dolls to encourage Black girls to embrace their natural hair.


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