Exploring body image and colourism with Comfort Arthur's Black Barbie

29 Oct 2021

4 mins
This is a still from the animation Black Barbie by Comfort Arthur.
This is a still from the animation Black Barbie by Comfort Arthur.

Black History Month may be winding to a close, but we are always passionate about releasing material that can be used outside of this very limited time frame to facilitate continued discussions around Black pride, culture and history in the classroom throughout the year.

This is fortunately an increasingly prevalent feeling and a major part of this year's wider conversation was the drive to move beyond Black History Month and towards Black History 365, which champions the ethos that Black history should be made every day.

We are also very keen to link such topics into the core curriculum whenever possible and one of our favourite books and animations of recent times, Black Barbie, does just that. The short poetry animation is by British born Ghanaian award-winning animator, illustrator and visual artist, Comfort Arthur, and explores her experience with skin bleaching products when growing up. By looking at issues of race through the lens of body image and colourism, it also links to a key part of the PSHE curriculum for secondary students in the UK.

To celebrate this brilliant and important piece of work, we've created a new resource, Celebrating Yourself: Body Image (11-16), which uses the film to explore issues around body image and the external factors that influence self-esteem. Using the film highlights, students are encouraged to consider their personal strengths and identity, leading to the creation of a short poem.

We have also created a new video of some of our interviews with Comfort Arthur, which you can watch below. Here, Comfort delves into her background as a filmmaker, what inspired Black Barbie and how the film can be used by young people in the classroom.

Make sure to also check out an older resource of ours, Animating Africa, which features Black Barbie and explores Comfort's animation style in more detail. Last but certainly not least.

Last but certainly not least, Comfort is the head of The Comfy Studio; an award-winning studio that specialises in animation, illustration and comic art. So if you liked Black Barbie, head to the website to experience even more of her exceptional work.

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