All photos via: Nakia Bowling
Image representation is important and it's a lesson that 11-year-old Zoe Terry of Miami, Florida learned at an early age.
When she was 5-years-old, she was bullied in school because of the color of her skin and her hair. Rather than letting the hurtful remarks get her down, Terry turned the experience into a positive one. In 2011, she launched Zoe’s Dolls, which is a simple initiative that gifts black and brown girls with dolls that look just like them. She tells ABC News that the goal is to let other young girls like her know that their image is worthy of being recognized in a positive light.
"I really wanted to find a way where I can let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful no matter what anyone says and I thought, ‘Dolls in their image would be a great way to show them that'" she says. “I think it's important that everyone gets a doll that looks like them.”
Terry's initiative is an extension of the early values her mom instilled in her when she was younger. On her website, the pre-teen says that every Christmas her mom would make her give away one of her toys to the less fortunate. Right before her 6th birthday she told her mom that she wanted to do something different for Christmas and that’s when "Zoe's Dolls" was born.
So far, Terry has collected and donated more than 20,000 dolls with her initiative and plans to create her own line of dolls one day. On an episode of “Good Morning America” earlier this month, Debbie Sterling, the CEO of toy company Goldieblox, surprised Terry by donating 5,000 dolls to her project.
“I wouldn't have as much success today if I didn’t have mentors along the way, so today I would like to sign up to be your mentor,” Sterling told Terry.