Blue Ivy, the firstborn heir to the Knowles-Carter dynasty, has already had a busy summer: the 7-year-old made a gracious cameo in her mother’s music video for The Lion King track, “Spirit” and contributed her vocals to another song for the film, “Brown Skin Girl.”
Now, the song has inspired a viral Internet challenge, with women and girls around sharing their joyful celebrations of their beauty.
The song, which name checks women like Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell and Beyonce’s Destiny’s Child co-singer, Kelly Rowland, resonated with black women and girls online, who took to the Internet to share pictures, videos and selfies of themselves on social media, celebrating their brown skin using the hashtag #BrownSkinGirlChallenge, referring to the title of the song.
Many also used the lyrics of the songs as affirmations in their captions, with one of the favorites being Blue Ivy’s own line, “the best thing in the world.”
The challenge attracted followers like Nyong’o, who was tickled at her mention, and Ava DuVernay.
It also inspired many to celebrate their beauty online, in a series empowering tweets.
The song opens and closes with Guyanese musician SAINt JHN and little Blue Ivy Carter singing “Brown skin girl / Your skin just like pearls / The best thing in the world / Never trade you for anybody else.”
The lyrics encourage young girls to love their skin — particularly in a culture that often upholds lighter skin as the standard of beauty. Sung over an African-infused beat, it’s the standout track on the curated soundtrack album, and also the kind of song this young Black girl needed to hear when she was Blue Ivy’s age.
“Brown Skin Girl” is unapologetically and fearlessly Black, hitting on a topic that society still hesitates to approach because of how, well, complicated the topic is.
Colourism is a deeply rooted issue in the Black community that goes back to slavery, when plantation owners separated worked by skin tone between the fields and the house.
Fast forward more than 400 years, and colourism is still alive and well. We’re living in an era where makeup companies are still releasing foundation lines with only two shades of brown and major fashion companies are allegedly only using darker skin girls after they get called out for not doing it.