Many of us have seen the heartwarming viral videos of young African-American girls reacting with emotion and joy when they see Ariel for the first time in the latest Disney movie trailer for “The Little Mermaid.” The moment when they see Ariel and she looks like them is profound. Clearly you know they will never forget that scene. Hope in a child’s eyes is unforgettable.
The video provides hope to my three daughters, to my many friends and sisters that we are included. Seen as beautiful, seen as a princess. I call it the “Ariel Effect”
The “Ariel Effect” happened to me in real life on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Hyatt Regency Valencia as I watched one of my dearest friends Di Thompson take the stage as the finale model in “Bras for a Cause.” Months before we had agreed as great friends and business owners to participate and co-sponsor a table. We shared our participation with our girlfriends so they could come and support. The cause was especially close to Di‘s heart because she lost her maternal grandmother to breast cancer. As the first Black woman to model in the event in its 19-year history, she was honored to represent after seeing the event advertised year in and year out. But she had not never seen someone who looked like her as a model.
As the rookie model she was walking for charity in honor of her grandmother and to shine a light on this amazing cause. The stage was set. With a table of 10 of her best girlfriends she had practiced and was outfitted in custom opulent bra, created by Stephanie Sewell, which captured her essence and beauty with a great song behind her. Her friend knew she would met the moment. The excitement in the room was electric. The result after she triumphantly sashayed and danced to Mariah Carey was priceless.
She was Ariel, she was Ariel to every woman of color in the room and what took over was just like the moment in which you see with the young girls seeing Ariel for the first time depicted by a Black woman. A Black woman who was talented, graceful, elegant, classy and beautiful. I saw the room shift in the energy of discovery. It was palpable.No matter what race you were that night, you saw beauty, courage and elegance.
Much like the happy ending of the movie, our Ariel raised the most money, left with her prince and brought so much awareness to our community in one beautiful song.
I am proud to have cosponsored the evening and to see the Soroptimists of Valencia championing and embracing diversity, providing everyone hope. The co-chairs Lisa West, Olga Campbell and Melissa Taub-Rogers embodied the organization’s mission. It was a beautiful night that I will never forget.