A mother and daughter from the Evergreen State have put a new spin on playing dress-up.
Each day in February, Cristi Jones of Kent, Washington, takes to Twitter to post a portrait of her 5-year-old daughter, Lola, dressed up as a black female pioneer to celebrate Black History Month.
"You can be anything you want and you can change your mind — or be a scientist and physician and astronaut like Dr. Jemison,” said Lola.
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Lola has transformed into Rosa Parks, Mae Jemison, Misty Copeland and Harriet Tubman, among others, with the help of Jones’ creativity and a cell phone.
"She does very good faces. She does the face she sees in the picture,” said Jones. "As soon as she got dressed (as Harriet Tubman), she did the face and nailed it.”
Using window light and a door or the wall in the kitchen as a backdrop, Jones takes a photo with her cell phone and edits it on Snapfeed, a photo app. Before bed, Jones prepares the lesson and photo shoot for the next day.
Jones is an amateur photographer and enjoys playing with photo filters on her mobile device. Her professional photographer friend Kayleigh Stefanko contributed to the project by shooting three images — Angela Davis, Daisy Bates and Mildred Loving — to give Jones a break.
It took a bit of ingenuity to get the look of the female historical figures. Jones uses mostly things from around her house and Lola’s father’s old glasses. Jones also bought a couple of hats and wigs, and a $2 suit jacket from the thrift store. Her grandmother’s dress made a cameo in the Shirley Chisholm portrait.
Jones created the photo project as an “engaging way to learn about strong women who paved the way for little girls like her, for all of us.”
The project was sparked when Lola came home from school sharing what she had learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in January.
The family decided it was time to teach Lola about Civil Rights and slavery. The mom of two - Lola has a 19-month-old sister, Eden - decided to make the education fun with a twist.
Each night after dinner, the duo spends quality time together reenacting the historical icons.
"We started simple with a simple outfit and did Nina Simone on Day 1. She did well,” Jones said. “Black History Month is already a short month. We only have 28 days to work with. There’s so many more women that deserve to be honored.”
Lola’s teacher shows the images in class and so her friends are learning too.
While Lola’s favorite image is Rosa Parks because Rosa was so brave, she enjoyed becoming Misty Copeland because she felt pretty like a ballerina.
Jones hopes to have the photos bound as a keepsake after their project is done. Lola likes to tell jokes, dance and put on clothes and makeup, and the portrait project has been a great opportunity for her to express her personality and build confidence.
“We’ve paid our tribute (to the women), and hopefully people like them. So it all kind of exceeds my expectations,” said Jones.