Body Image And Hair Politics In African American Culture

1559 words - 7 pages

Introduction
This essay is concerned with issues of identity, body image and the politics of hair within African American culture. It discusses the lived experiences of a number of African American women and is no way generalizable to all African American women. Nonetheless, body image and hair politics are prominent features in African American culture because they have deep historical roots and still feature in present day. Body image is generally understood as a mental image of one’s body as it appears to others (Featherstone 2010). This mental image produces body consciousness, which Samantha Kwan describes as an amplified mindfulness that one’s body does not conform to hegemonic cultural standards (Kwan 2010). In today’s modern context, hegemonic cultural norms are reproduced and widely disseminated by the mass media with the help of new technologies. These new technologies Elliott’s discusses, with some in the form of satellite television and other widely utilized media, give viewers unprecedented opportunities to view and scrutinize their favorite celebrities in close proximity (Elliott 2010).
This proximity to celebrities, according to Elliott, shifts focus from celebrities to celebrity body parts. This new focus increases the use of cosmetic surgery and other tools to mimic what is perceived as attractive (Elliott 2010). Furthermore, Elliott in his work goes on to discuss the notion that, in traditional societies, priests and saints were uplifted based on their personality and ability whereas in today’s Hollywood era, the celebrity is celebrated on account of physical features (Elliott 2010). On the other hand, I do not believe this concept fully applied to African American traditional slave society. This is because, as a social group, African Americans were not judged by their personality or intellect but rather by physical features.
The purpose of this essay is to analyze issues of body consciousness in the African American context and how Elliott’s notion of new technologies are not changing how African American women view their bodies but serve to exacerbate notions of inferiority. To begin with, I intend to focus on the contradictory views throughout history of African American hair and how these views came to create intra-racial racism and body consciousness in black communities. Finally, based on the section of history being considered, I will conclude with a discussion on the role these new technologies have in promoting normative standards of beauty and how this plays out in issues of body consciousness for African American women.
The Politics of Hair and Body Consciousness.
Elliott (2010) proposes that new technologies create body consciousness leading to body modifications that were previously absent in traditional culture. I suggest that in the African American context, new technologies exacerbate the perceived need for body modifications especially in relation to hair. The historical significance of hair in the African...

Find Another Essay On Body Image and Hair Politics in African American Culture

Africanisms in African American Culture Essay

1006 words - 5 pages culture use that ties back to Africa. Which in fact there are several africanisms that still exist. African Americans have retained an essence of Africa in their speech, hair care, clothing, preparation of foods, and music by over centuries of separation from the Dark Continent. Speech is a very influenced africanism in America. A word commonly used today by all races in America is the word “okay”, a Mande and Wolf term that means “that’s it

African-American Leadership, Politics, and Institutions Essay

3462 words - 14 pages American experience is the issue of leadership and politics. For a long time, African-American leadership has been sidelined until the rise of civil rights movements starting from 1950s. Since then, African Americans have exerted their position in United States leadership culminating in election of current President Barrack Obama, who became the first African-American president of the country. African American leadership and participation in

Body Image in Children and Adolescents

3340 words - 13 pages culture around the globe stresses specific ideals for body image. In the United States and many other countries, the media plays a big role in how we view ourselves- it shows us what is "good" and what is "bad." In many ways our society infiltrates our concept of ideal body image by setting unrealistic expectations for both genders. At an early age we are instructed to pay special attention to our appearance. At an early age body image schema

Image of African American Women

1043 words - 5 pages expressed to me that he found dark girls “hideous.” I was shocked upon hearing this because not only was his comment insensitive and racist, he was a black as well. This comment did not surprise me as it is popular belief that dark girls are not attractive. In Hey Girl, Am I More Than My Hair?: African American Women and Their Struggles with Beauty, Body Image, and Hair Tracey Owen Patton provides a historical review on the emergence of black

Women And Body Image

3386 words - 14 pages denounced for upholding and perhaps even creating the emaciated standard of beauty by which females are taught from childhood to judge the worth of their own bodies (Stephens & Hill, 1994). To explore the broader context of this controversial issue, this paper draws upon several aspects on how the media influences young women?s body image. This paper examines an exploration of the prevalence and the source of body dissatisfaction in American females

Media and Body Image

2541 words - 10 pages to a standard that cannot be met by women in today’s culture. When women have that standard to look up to they will resort to just about anything to reach that higher standard. In today’s society being thin has become so popular that it is being defined as a “normative discontent” (Body Image Concerns in Young Girls: The Role of Peers and Media Prior to Adolescence 141). Women view the images in the media and they criticize themselves more often

Media and Body Image

1007 words - 4 pages nervosa and bulimia nervosa. According to Body Researcher Sarah Murnen, professor of psychology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, “The promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don't like their bodies and body dissatisfaction can lead girls to participate in very unhealthy behaviors to try to control weight.” According to WebMD, “About 30% of girls aged 10 to 14 are dieting

Media and Body Image

1856 words - 8 pages the media portrayed were thin and curvy with little body fat and Molly thought that she had to fit in like those women. She viewed her body image as too big and looked to the media to dictate what she should look like and how much she should weigh. She stared out on a restricted diet and counted the amount of calories she consumed every day. She would exercise constantly and after a while just stopped eating. She would refuse to eat food and try

Media and Body Image - 1689 words

1689 words - 7 pages street and seen adolescent females wearing something that was more appropriate worn by an adult? Adolescent females read beauty and fashion magazines and the subjection to the “ideal” images corresponds with a time in their lives where self-efficacy and self-regard is in decline. This time period is where self-esteem is tied to body image. Also, this is the time period where social comparison is its highest. Young females find themselves in this

Beauty and Body Image

760 words - 4 pages portrays of an ideal woman: unhealthy and its body image. We are so caught up with the media and it’s “perfection” we see in it, it is self destruction. Toddlers and teens are being sexualized too much at a young age. They participate in beauty pageants. Their needs and wants are higher than usual, they want to look good, and act like a woman. One of their biggest dreams is to become a super model when they grow up. Everything they want to be is

african american culture

1716 words - 7 pages discrimination. It is very important for those working in health care to recognize this and to being interventions forth that mesh with the African American culture (Campinha-Bacote, 2013, p. 94). It is also crucial to understand that different age groups may also communicate differently. For example, younger African Americans may be comfortable talking about personal matter, but “older and more traditional African Americans may not embrace “talk

Similar Essays

Body Image In African American Women

3061 words - 12 pages , African-American women. In African-American culture, both dark and light-skin tones carry stereotypes and idealizations that are deeply rooted in the history and experience of African-American in this country. Thus, undoubtedly has some effect on body image. This illustrates the importance of cultural facets of body image. Also, Henriques, Calhoun, and Cann (1996) conducted a study to clarify the relationship between ethnicity and body satisfaction

Culture And Its Role In The Construction Of Womens Body Image

1611 words - 6 pages Culture and its Role in the Construction of Women’s Body Image: Methodical vs. Individualistic      The definition of body image refers to an individual’s subjective evaluation of her size, weight, or any other aspect of physical appearance; a highly personalized experience (Linda Ridge Wolszon 546). The modern West places great emphasis on individualism, which claims human existence as separate from society

The Influence Of Pop Culture On Body Image

756 words - 3 pages Pop- culture has influenced body image ideals in many ways these past few years since 2000. Body image is when someone looks at his or her self in the mirror and checks out his/her body. Some people may like what they see, but the majority of people do not. Everyone has at least one flaw that they do not like; nobody is perfect. Lately, most teenagers and young adults dream of having the perfect body that they would stop eating or work out ten

Body Image And American Society Essay

809 words - 3 pages generally, lead to lower self-esteem. In fact, studies show that the pursuit of beauty and the enhancement of appearance are integral to the concept of self-esteem in women (Guyot 105). And while a poor body image hurts self-esteem, it is further psychologically harmful in a myriad of ways, propelling women to obsess about the five pounds they gained over spring break or to worry about gaining weight before a big event. In essence, a poor body