Across two generations — a family transformed

Flor Angel Calis Antelis, the youngest member of her family to participate in Muñecas Negras, outside of her family home. Photo by Fran Alfonso.

It was Yanilda Juan, 23, who brought her family to Muñecas Negras. Today, her sisters and their daughters joined: seven Juan women in all.

“This project doesn’t just teach us to stitch dolls. It teaches us to love ourselves, our roots, our ancestors, our hair, our skin. To understand that everything we have is gold, regardless of what other people say,” Yanilda says. “I used to feel like I was floating in limbo. And now, I know I exist. I feel at home in my skin. Comfortable enough to say, loud and proud: We are Black.”

Yanilda’s younger sister Nini, at 17, is now growing up with powerful female role models in her family, and joining Muñecas Negras has changed her life too. Today she’s sewing dolls and learning about her rights, and some day, she hopes to study fashion design. In the meantime, she has this message to deliver to other girls:

“It doesn’t matter what color your skin is — you don’t need to change a thing. Love yourself, and others will love you for it,” says Nini. “Don’t depend on anyone’s judgement, their comments or their views of you. Learn to accept yourself as you are, just like I did.”

Read more about the Juans.