TiffanyJ and Super Beauty

Columbia entrepreneur and artist TiffanyJ has created Super Beauty, a doll that she hopes will instill self-love in young girls. Provided

When Tiffany Joyce Wider was just 12 years old, she attempted suicide. 

The entrepreneur and artist, who is based out of Columbia, said she struggled with self-esteem and depression while growing up, especially as a young black woman in a world of white Barbie dolls. 

"Representation matters," she said. "A lot of times when we don't see what we look like in media, it’s easy to think of yourself as lesser than."

That's why, in adulthood, Wider, who goes by TiffanyJ, set out to create a doll that looked more like she did when she was an adolescent. She named that doll Super Beauty, and has written and illustrated a book series based on Super Beauty's anti-bullying school adventures. 

"Super Beauty embodies my physical characteristics as a child but personality and spirit now," said Wider. "She's not a skinny doll, she's a regular person with unique style and a bubbly personality." 

The doll talks, speaking phrases like, "Your hair is flawless," "You're super dope" and "If people say mean things about you, they just don’t understand your greatness and power." 

It's all to instill self-love in young girls, particularly black girls, who might not often see a representation of themselves in magazines or the media. 

Wider said Super Beauty is a celebrity-like character with the ability to instill confidence in kids. There is even a Super Beauty mascot that travels with Wider to youth empowerment conferences and schools that makes her more tangible. 

"A lot of times, when the fly girl, the super dope girl, gives another girl a compliment, it’s easier for them to believe," Wider said. "When I ask girls, 'If Beyonce walked in and said she liked your hair, then would you believe her?' they say yes, because it's Beyonce." 

Wider has traveled to several South Carolina schools with Super Beauty, including Pepperhill Elementary School in North Charleston, which she visited in April.   

"The message in her book of how to be a kind friend to others was great for my students to hear," said Pepperhill Elementary School teacher Mary Kate Karle, "because that is an ongoing discussion within our classrooms and very important to teach early on in life."

Karle said it was also cool to see kids pointing at each other and saying, "You look just like Super Beauty!" It's an automatic confidence booster. 

"I understand importance of self-love now," Wider said. "If I had that confidence when I was younger, maybe things would've been different. The point of Super Beauty is for everyone to feel like they're uniquely made and that you can be yourself and still be just as beautiful as anyone else."

Wider is currently developing a cast of characters in addition to Super Beauty, including a brother who will be called Handsome Hero. 

"We sometimes forget that boys need empowerment as well," Wider said. 

Wider and Super Beauty will be in North Charleston at 10 a.m. July 19 at the Northwoods Park and Recreation Center and at 2 p.m. at the Danny Jones Recreation Center. Tickets are $2 per child with accompanying adults admitted at no charge, and parking is free.

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Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Kalyn Oyer is a Charleston native who covers arts and entertainment for The Post and Courier's Thursday edition, Charleston Scene. She used to write about music for the Charleston City Paper and Scene SC.