Brandi Harvey and Karli Raymond empower black girls to be authentically themselves

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

As twin daughters of entertainer and author Steve Harvey, Brandi Harvey and Karli Harvey-Raymond have made it their mission to uplift and empower women and girls. For the girls who attended the 2017 Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) this past weekend at Disney World, the sisters used it as an opportunity to instill values in the young dreamers of self-worth, confidence, and respect.

“God did not make a mistake on you,” says Karli Harvey-Raymond, when talking about the need for self-love.

The stylish sisters, who are also entrepreneurs and motivational speakers, hosted an image awareness forum during the DDA weekend programming that taught the teenaged girls an important lesson about how style and confidence are interchangeable.

The engaging, interactive fashion lesson from the Harvey sisters not only got the girls talking about their personal fashion sense, but also about how to determine what is “appropriate” vs. “inappropriate” in different spaces and settings.

The use of the imagery in the photos, which included that of Kendall and Kylie Jenner, sparked this important discussion and opened the door to another underlying theme that was important for young black girls to decipher: “You matter.”

In an exclusive interview with theGrio, the sisters honed in on these sentiments.

“That’s what’s so unfortunate, especially as black girls,” said Brandi Harvey. “You know to have your culture taken from you, regurgitated, remixed… thrown back to you like you weren’t the creators and the originators of it. I think that’s what we want to tell girls, that there’s power in their image.”

Brandi continued, “There’s power in what they bring to the table, but you don’t have to change yourself and alter yourself to be something different. That God really did make you an original.”

Of the girls who attend the Disney Dreamers Academy, most are black girls, between the ages of 13-19. At this age, it’s safe to say, it’s a very important message for them to hear and also to understand, in a world where drastic cosmetic surgeries and beauty regimens have become more mainstream.

“[God] made you that to stand out. So when you start to alter yourself and change yourself especially as a young girl… and you haven’t even fully developed into this woman that you’re going to be, then how are you setting up your life?”

Karli Raymond then chimed in, “I think it is also showing and affirming girls that when He created you, you were perfect. You were all ready. You came ready for the world. That you don’t have to change who you are to be special. That if you just embrace who you are… what you look like, then you will shine.”

Watch the full interview with the Harvey sisters below.