Michelle Obama shared encouraging words for Ariyonna Cotton, the little Black girl who broke hearts across the internet when she referred to herself as ugly.
Obama posted a sweet tribute to four-year-old Ariyonna on her Instagram page.
“Ariyonna, you are gorgeous,” she wrote. “In a world that sometimes tries to say otherwise, I want to tell you — and every other beautiful, intelligent, brave black girl — just how precious you are.”
Last week, the world was introduced to the preschooler when her hairdresser Shabria Redmond posted a video of their eye-opening conversation on Instagram, per Today.
“I’m so ugly,” Ariyonna said.
“Don’t say that! Don’t say that. Don’t say that. You are so pretty,” replied Redmond, who also is a rapper based in Atlanta. “When you look at yourself, you’re supposed to say, I am so pretty. You are so pretty, do you hear me? You’ve got the prettiest little dimples. You are too cute.”
The little girl began to cry as Redmond heaped praise on her.
“You ‘gon make me cry. You’re not ugly!” she said. “You are so pretty. You have this beautiful chocolate skin … you are beautiful, black is beautiful, and if don’t nobody ever tell you, I will tell you; you are gorgeous.”
The video went viral and Ariyonna gained a herd of internet aunties and uncles who made it their mission to uplift her self-esteem. Matthew Cherry, director of the Oscar-winning “Hair Love” documentary, created a hashtag and asked artists to submit fan art for Ariyonna.
“Hey #ArtTwitter can we get a collection of drawings together of this sweet little girl who mistakenly called herself ugly like the one @LeislAdams did so we can get a collection of them to her and the hairdresser @LilWaveDaddy that encouraged her,” he wrote. “Make sure to include the dimples.”
After the outpouring of love, Redmond posted another video of her little client — who’s slated for a March 13 appearance on the “The Tamron Hall Show” — basking in the beauty of her Blackness.
Someone created an Instagram account for Ariyonna filled with art and cute pictures of the little girl. As of press time, it has almost 8000 follows.