Keep some Kleenex handy when you watch this one…

I love documentaries and they’re among my favorite types of films.  However, among the documentaries there are two types that really stand out for me—ones that have a strong emotional impact and those who are pushing for some sort of positive change.  You’ll see both in Dark Girls—an exceptional film from D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke.

Dark Girls is a film about a worldwide phenomenon—the notion that the lighter the skin the better or more beautiful the person supposedly is.  In particular, it focuses on black women—women who have been traditionally devalued because of insane perceptions by the prevailing culture.  The roots of this nonsense are investigated by the film as well as how prevalent it is in most cultures around the globe.

Dark Girls
Directed by
D. Channsin Berry & Bill Duke
Stephanie A., Soren Baker, Joni Bovill
Release Date
Out Now
Martin’s Grade: A

However, most of the film is made up of interviews—mostly with black women but black men, whites and Asians as well.  Why so many different types of people?  It’s because apparently every group, to some extent, has bought into this superficial notion.

By far the most hard-hitting of these interviews are by beautiful black women and girls who grew up hating their color and themselves simply because of nature—and this is where the Kleenex will probably come in handy.  Seeing and hearing all these accomplished and lovely people who have despised their darker pigments is tough to watch without becoming at least a little misty-eyed.  I just wanted to hug them all and tell them they were beautiful—and I am sure you’ll also feel that way as you watch.

Of all the documentaries I’ve recently seen, this is one that I wish I could force children and teens to watch.  Then they, too, can see how cosmetic manufacturers, television and the culture STILL promote a notion that lighter is more beautiful instead of character being what makes someone beautiful.  I know I’m sounding like I’m on a soapbox here—so I’ll wrap it up quickly.  The bottom line is that the film is very well made, intelligent and hard-hitting.  And, if you want to see it, try Netflix—where it is currently streaming.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer