Kheris Rogers is a 16-year-old whirlwind taking the world by storm. At just 10 years old, she came out with her own fashion line, “Flexin’ In My Complexion,” that works to inspire young girls. She’s done empowering work through the Kheris Rogers Foundation and continues to inspire through her children’s story “Shine Bright.”
Rogers chatted with us recently about her endeavors and “Shine Bright.”
When writing “Shine Bright,” how did you imagine your younger audience’s reception to its message?
Writing the book, I wanted it to be for kids who are being told they look different, knowing they really don’t. I wanted to remind them at a young age, because no one wants to be older and [searching] for self-confidence in themselves. It’s important for young kids to find it young, and I feel like a lot of parents and a lot of adults don’t see that. [By writing the book], I wanted to make sure that all kids realize they should love themselves no matter what anyone says.
What was the process for creating “Shine Bright?”
The process of creating “Shine Bright was super fun [and] it was easy. Once you find an illustrator, everything should just flow after that. It was just such a fun experience creating these characters — Imani, how I wanted her to look. I wanted her to represent Black girl[s], like “Oh, my God, Mommy! She looks just like me!” I wanted that, and I feel like I got that reaction. So creating the book was so fun. It was so easy, and I’m just glad everyone loves it.
You do a lot of work to empower and spark confidence. Were there any role models you had, and still have, who helped you feel empowered and confident?
Definitely my family. I feel like growing up, especially being a Black girl, you don’t have a lot of representation to look at. Or a lot of good representation.
The Kheris Rogers Foundation hosted the “Women’s History Month Roundtable on Colorism, Representation and Issues Black Women Face in America.” What was that experience like for you?
It was super fun, especially to see other young people my age not being scared to be vocal that they go through things as well. Not being afraid to know that they don’t know what to do with their life, even though college is coming around. It’s OK!
Do you have any advice for children or parents of young children who are experiencing bullying?
Don’t let what other people say about you get into your head. No one knows you more than you know you. No one can change the definition of you but you, OK? And also for the parent: If you see your child crying for help, help them! It can be different cries of help, not just walking up to you and saying, “I need help.” It can be a change in behavior, change in how their day-to-day lives go when they’re just [lying] in bed all day. You know, peep the little things.
What is next for you, Kheris? What are you looking forward to?
Definitely expanding “Flexin’ In My Complexion,” definitely some more big jobs coming. I’m just super excited for the future. I started “Flexin’ In My Complexion” when I was 10 years old because I was being bullied for my dark-skinned complexion. I started it because, for one, I was going viral on Twitter. I started to see the reaction of how much people were saying they loved my hair, my skin, everything about me. I was just, like, “I was bullied for these things.” And it really helped me gain confidence in myself. “Flexin’ In My Complexion” was really for everyone, including me, to help love myself, and it became a thing really for everyone.