Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Oluwakemi M. Balogun
© 2013 Jerrika M. Anderson Edwards
How do magazines that target the Black community represent Black/African American female beauty within a society that pushes a Eurocentric beauty ideal? Are these publications affected by the dominant ideal, do they resist the ideal with their own Afrocentric beauty standards, or do they find some type of compromise between the two? In this thesis, I propose that these publications present a compromise between Eurocentric and Afrocentric ideals but to the detriment of Black/African American women. To investigate my research questions, I conducted a content analysis of the advertisements in three periods of time, 1968, 1988, and 2008, in three lifestyle /news magazines that target the Black community: Jet, Essence, and Ebony. I looked at the beauty ideals represented in all three magazines by focusing on the hair type, skin color, and body shape and size of the Black/African American women portrayed. In addition I examined the historical context that supported the creation of these publications and these specific gendered and raced representations.Through a compromise between society’s dominant Eurocentric beauty ideal and an alternative Afrocentric ideal, these magazines participated in a trade-off, in which features and aesthetics of both communities were represented by Black women in advertisements. While the typical interpretation of this analysis might focus solely on the positive attributes of these representations, I argue that these representations are harmful to Black female readers because they circumscribe what constitutes Black female beauty while at the same time reinforcing negative ideas about physical attributes that are deemed “too Black” by the dominant ideals of a Eurocentric society.
Anderson Edwards, Jerrika M., "The Beauty Standard Trade-Off: How Ebony, Essence, and Jet Magazine Represent African American/Black Female Beauty in Advertising in 1968, 1988, and 2008" (2013). Scripps Senior Theses. 286.