When you are young, you are impressionable. Every little thing you encountered could potentially have an impact on the way your childhood is shaped.
Society, especially for young black girls, does not do a good job of creating positive impressions for us.
That's why when I first watched Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1997 version of "Cinderella," I instantly became as excited as a 6-year-old could be.
We had "Cinderella" on a cassette tape. If you're not sure what that is, it's basically a brick. This version of the movie, starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, made me set a standard for all entertainment that I watched, which at the time was mostly cartoons and Disney movies.
I saw Cinderella as a beautiful black girl who could rise from the ashes of her stepmother's tyranny and blossom into one very lucky princess.
I thought that in everything I watched, black people would be revered as something magical and beautiful. They would be normalized in society as we see it, not portrayed as savage monsters or people who die at the end of a story.
I saw a very happy ending for myself when I watched Brandy's "Cinderella."
When I later watched Disney's animated version of "Cinderella," I was confused, to say the least. Her skin color wasn't as dark as mine and Brandy's, her voice wasn't as melodic. I really believed that Cinderella, in every representation of the fictional character, was a black girl. I looked at my television screen a bit sideways because I wasn't really sure how to process what I was seeing.
The importance of representation in our society is pertinent for little girls like me, to see that we are valued and special.
When all you see are bouncing bubbling white women, you develop a sense of inferiority. As a result, black girls lose self-confidence and start to hate their beautiful skin and coiled hair. You feel like if you're not a particular shade of eggshell, you won't be able to sit at the "cool table." This kind of behavior leads to a string of issues into young womanhood that we won't delve into right now.
Although I wasn't seen as the standard of beauty in society's eye, watching Brandy effortlessly play Cinderella taught me that I, too, can be a magical black girl. I can do whatever I set my mind to and break free from under the constant thumb of an "evil stepmother," which in this case is society.
I am grateful for the Black Cinderella, and I'm happy to call her MY Cinderella.