Say it with me: awwwwwwww… The littlest afrobella in my family is growing up so fast! I’m so excited, I get to see her this week! My whole entire family is coming to Miami to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary with us. I’m psyched to see everyone, and super duper psyched to see little Dominique. She’s grown up so much, and I hear she’s saying lots of new words, getting into all kinds of mischief, and learning lots of new and wonderful things.

One of the new things she likes to do is come up to Mama Bella when she’s at her dresser, with her hands outstretched. “Keem?” she asks. And Mama Bella gives her some body cream in her hand, which she then proceeds to rub on her arms and face with great enthusiasm. Hey, she’s moisturizing early! I didn’t start until my late teens!

I want to reinforce her self-esteem with positive images she can identify with. I’ve been looking for all sorts of products for her for a while now. For one, I want to get her a beautiful doll that looks like her — someone PLEASE tell me where to start looking. She’s not even two yet, and most dolls are for babies three and up. The only little black doll she has is a Bratz doll who’s dressed to work by the motels on Biscayne Boulevard. My sister tells me that she loves Poko, but I can’t find a Poko doll.

I had just about given up on my search for the perfect gift for my favorite little afrobella when I made an amazing discovery. Bellas, I’d like to introduce you to J.Blossom, a brilliant new line of children’s bath and beauty products created by Jamila White.

j.blossom all began when Jamila started experimenting with at home body products, whipping up lotions, lip balms, and body scrubs in her kitchen as gifts for her friends and family. When she made some super-cute personalized lip balms for her goddaughter’s fifth birthday party, she discovered a demand. When she designed her products, Jamila wanted to make a statement.

“I was getting pretty disgusted with all the images of Black girls and women that were being portrayed in the media. I had always been aware of it, but it was really starting to bother me more. And going into major retail stores and seeing “hoochie-wear” for eight-year-olds wasn’t helping. I felt like little girls’ self-esteem was under an all-out assault. Every message was telling them that something was wrong with them; that they needed to have long, straight hair; that their skin wasn’t the right shade; that their noses were too big; that their body wasn’t the right shape; that they weren’t “sexy” enough; that their goal in life should be to be cute enough to catch a baller who can buy them lots of bling. Even the popular dolls on the market seemed to look like hoochies. What ever happened to innocence? Seems like that window of being young and carefree kept getting smaller and smaller,” she explains.

Preach on, Jamila! She’s articulating feelings that I’ve had for a while now. These are the image issues at the root of the doll test, and the social issues that help to lead otherwise good little girls down the road to nowhere uplifting, like a certain fifteen year old Trini girl I don’t even have the energy to defend anymore.

As the Chief Joy Officer of her beauty product company, Jamila is doing her part to give little afrobellas positive reinforcement from the outside in. All of j.blossom’s packaging features an adorable, smiling brown girl and every product has a fun little saying on the bottle.

“I decided I wanted not just to use aromatherapy and flower essences in the ingredients and affirm little brown girls with the images on the packaging, but to have different positive affirmations on every product. I wanted the girls to know that they were perfect just as they were, but I didn’t want to sound “preachy”. So I made it fun, like Short or tall, thick or thin — I love the skin that I am in! which is on the strawberry-banana body lotion,” says Jamila. Other little sayings on the bottles include “I am perfect just the way I am, because God doesn’t make any junk!” “I love my beautiful brown skin, especially when it’s fresh and clean!” “I am somebody special!” and “Girls can do anything!” Love that idea.

So you’re probably wondering about the ingredients. Jamila is very particular about what she’s using, because these products are targeted for little ones. She’s also very upfront about her ingredients, and everything’s proudly posted on each package. The lip balms are made with beeswax, shea butter, olive and jojoba oil, honey, stevia extract, and flower essences. The body wash includes lavendar, rose, coconut, aloe vera, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. The lotion is comprised of shea butter, olive oil, apricot kernel oil, and sweet almond oil among other things. And Jamila makes sure that three essential ingredients are used in every j.blossom product. “Patrice, I’m really serious about maintaining the positive energy in the products. On the label under ingredients it even lists “music, laughter, and lots of love” because all three are a crucial part of the product. Listening to positive music when I’m mixing up a batch really does make the products better! Once I was listening to the radio and some songs with some not-so-positive messages were on, and for the first time a batch came out all messed up. I’m telling you, that negative vibe got all up into the product. So now I make sure I have a bunch of positive, make-you-sing-out-loud kind of music on when I’m making product. Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Bob Marley. You know, happy music. Happy music makes happy products. Happy products make happy girls. And happy girls grow up to be strong, healthy women,” she says.

Because little Dominique won’t be here till Friday, I’ve been trying j.blossom’s products out myself. First of all, I love the Great Big Grape bubble bath and shower gel. It has a bubblicious type of grape scent that the kids will go crazy for, but it isn’t overpowering at all. The body lotion is awesome, emollient, and the perfect balance of thick and thin. Dominique’s gonna love her “keem!” The lip gloss is super smooth and moisturizing, and as a lip gloss junkie, I gotta tell you that it feels pretty cool to be able to use a product with the slogan “I have a beautiful smile” on it. It gives me a little joy every time I use it! The one complaint a kid might have is, the gloss doesn’t taste like grape. The smell’s there, but it pretty much just tastes like lip gloss. But I think she’s gonna love it anyway, and she can put it in the purse I gave her for Christmas and be the little diva that she is.

So far, j.blossom’s been getting great response from afrobellas of all ages. “We just launched in December, and so far the reaction by both children and adults has been incredibly positive. The little girls just light up when they see the bottles. They want to touch them and play with them. For most of them, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen themselves on a product. One of my emailed to tell me her daughter sleeps with j.blossom stuff under her pillow every night, and another told me his niece won’t throw away the empty bottles. Hearing that kind of feedback really does my heart good!”

Awww. Yay for j.blossom! Jamila says that hair products are coming up next, and she’s got a lot more in store. I’m ready for a j.blossom line of dolls, teeshirts, a Saturday morning cartoon… bring it on, Jamila! I’m supporting you all the way. The products are high quality, the message is needed and positive, and the prices are excellent — an 8 oz bubble bath and shower gel costs $12, and lip balms are just $3. And as a special little incentive, you can enter promo code AFROB for a 10% discount off your purchase!

If you’ve got a little afrobella in your life, I’ve got a special giveaway for you and her today! Jamila was good enough to send me THREE j.blossom mini fun packs, which contain a 2 oz. bubble bath and shower gel, body lotion, a .15 oz lip balm, and a mesh bath sponge. I also have TWO lip balm packs, which contain both Great Big Grape and Strawberry Banana Smoothie flavors. Leave a comment and tell me about the little afrobellas in your life. What’s her name? What are her favorite toys to play with, or books to read? Have you found any other positive products for your little afrobella? Share with me. At the end of the day on Friday, I will pick five lucky numbers and e mail the winners!

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