Sasha Bonner wants to raise her 2-year-old daughter to know that she'll have unlimited options growing up and that there will be no glass ceiling in her life.
So, when it came to Black History Month, Bonner, of Charlotte, North Carolina, decided to celebrate by dressing up her daughter, Riley Johnson, as powerful black women.
“When I was growing up, women were not that well represented so I didn’t really know all my potential. I just didn’t see it,” said Bonner, a social worker. “I grew up thinking Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth were the same person because I learned about them at the same time on the same day during Black History Month.”
So far this month, Riley has dressed as leading women who include Beyonce, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Stacey Abrams, Tracee Ellis Ross, Simone Biles and the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
Bonner posts the photos of her daughter on Instagram, where she also includes a short bio of each woman. Bonner said she “almost lost my mind” when Abrams, who delivered the Democratic response to this year’s State of the Union, replied to the photo of Riley dressed up as her.
“Riley, the outfit is perfect. And something tells me you will be in the history books one day too,” Abrams wrote.
Bonner got the idea to dress up Riley to show her all the people she can be after reading a book with her daughter about important women in history. She realized she could use Riley’s tutu to dress her up as ballerina pioneer Misty Copeland, and the rest is history.
During each photo shoot, Bonner told Riley about the woman she was dressing up as, and had her repeat each woman's name.
“I wanted her to know her history and I wanted an activity to do with her,” Bonner said. “It was a big commitment but I wanted to make it simple. I didn’t buy any costumes and everything we’ve used was already in her closet.”
Riley has been a good sport about the daily costumes, getting into character and particularly loving the necklaces and lipstick she got to wear as Beyonce, according to Bonner.
At the end of the month, Bonner plans to compile all of the photos in a book for Riley to keep looking at as she gets older.
“I’m a visual person so sometimes I need to see it. I don’t know if my daughter will learn like that but I want her to be able to see it and visualize it,” Bonner said. “I know that her options will be unlimited. I want her to know that and see that.”