Race&Body1

Race&Body1 - Hey Girl, Am I More than My Hair?:...

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Hey Girl, Am I More than My Hair?: African American Women and Their Struggles with Beauty, Body Image, and Hair Tracey Owens Patton . NWSA Journal . Bloomington: Summer 2006 . Vol. 18, Iss. 2; pg. 24, 28 pgs Using Afrocentric theory and standpoint theory, this article examines the effect of the White standard of beauty upon African American women. By shedding light on the salience of the effects of beauty, body image, and hair, this article questions societal definitions of beauty. Adherence to the Euro American beauty standard has had, and continues to have, devastating effects upon African American women. In addition, this standard pits African American women against the dominant cultural standard of beauty. A call to challenge the hegemonic White standard of beauty through Black beauty liberation is offered. Keywords: Afrocentric theory / Black beauty / Black beauty liberation / body image / hair / racism / standpoint theory / White beauty Throughout history and to present day, African American women have challenged White definitions of beauty. What or who is considered beautiful varies among cultures. What remains consistent is that many notions of beauty are rooted in hegemonically defined expectations. While definitions of beauty affect the identities of everyone, this article focuses on African American women and the intersection between beauty, body image, and hair. Specifically, this article looks historically at how differences in body image, skin color, and hair haunt the existence and psychology of Black women, especially since one common U.S. societal stereotype is the belief that Black women fail to measure up to the normative standard. Two theoretical frameworks guide my analysis of beauty standards: Afrocentric theory and standpoint theory. I argue that the continuance of hegemonically defined standards of beauty not only reify White European standards of beauty in the United States, but also that the marginalization of certain types of beauty that deviate from the "norm" are devastating to all women. Further, the unrealistic expectations of beauty and hairstyle reify the divisions that exist between African American and Euro American women. First, in order to understand African American women and the intersection between beauty, body image, and hair, this article juxtaposes beauty standards of African American and Euro American women, reviewing them through historical and current lenses. second, I consider the theoretical frameworks of standpoint theory and
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Afrocentric theory as a means to elucidate beauty issues. Third, aspects of body, image, and race are discussed. Finally, I explore the possibility of redefining standards of beauty and "normality" through Black beauty liberation. An Historical Review of Beauty: Black Beauty vs. White Beauty
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Race&Body1 - Hey Girl, Am I More than My Hair?:...

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