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Black Women’s Image in Advertising A Cultural Analysis Brianna Harrell COMM 261.

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Presentation on theme: "Black Women’s Image in Advertising A Cultural Analysis Brianna Harrell COMM 261."— Presentation transcript:

1 Black Women’s Image in Advertising A Cultural Analysis Brianna Harrell COMM 261

2 Thesis Marketers use a specific image of the African American woman (poufy hair & light skinned) because historically a lighter skin complexion was more accepted because of it’s closeness to the Caucasian culture, thus the idea has transcended through time; she is deemed more marketable and attractive than a woman with a darker skin complexion and therefore is predicted to be more successful; and because her skin tone is associated with the Caucasian culture, she is considered smarter as well. The hair is styled in such a way not only to punctuate her “blackness” but to emphasize the influence of the Caucasian culture as well.

3 Abstract Historically, blacks were treated poorly and forced to work as slaves living in inhabitable conditions and working aggressively to stay alive. However, if you were of a lighter skin tone one was most likely subject to less harsh conditions. Through time, the idea of “light-is- right” became universal and light skinned blacks were put on a pedestal in the AA community which is why they are placed in modern day advertising more than any other skin tone and are used to represent diversity and the AA culture as whole. In the past, dark skinned blacks were deprived of pleasures such as reading to keep them ignorant of any kind of knowledge so they wouldn’t be smarter or as smart as their counterparts but, as I stated previously, blacks with lighter skin were afforded such opportunities. Because of these conditions, these oppressing ideas have been embedded in the AA culture and transferred into modern day thinking and manifested in our advertising.

4 Components Historical Background Social Context – Attractiveness – Intelligence – Status Modern Advertising and Media Hair

5 Historical Background To understand where the “light vs. dark” phenomenon came about, one must know how you get light skin. If a AA has light skin, somewhere in their family lineage they have Caucasian heritage and since whites were superior they were afforded the amenities of a good life (i.e., better schooling) and of course were smarter thus their genes were passed along making their descendents intellectuals as well.

6 Social Context Attractiveness – “Light skin is associated with Europeans and is assigned a higher status than darker skin, which is associated with Africans and indigenous people, and is assigned a lower status.” (Hunter, 2000) Intelligence – “It has long been believed that it would be possible to resolve the disputed issue of whether genetic factors are involved in black-white difference in intelligence by an examination of the relationship between intelligence and the amount of white ancestry among African Americans and other black and colored populations with significant amounts of white ancestry”. (Lynn, 2002) Status – “When subjects of dark, medium, and light complexion were compared in terms of several indicators of socioeconomic status, those of light skin color ranked higher.” (Edwards, 1973)

7 Modern Day Advertising and Media – Early Movies: Spike Lee “School Daze” hair/ c20a697b6b c20a697b6b hair/ c20a697b6b c20a697b6b – Present Commercials [Black] Television Shows(leading ladies) – Tisha Campbell: My Wife and Kids – Jada Pinkett: Hawthorne Actresses – Halle Berry – Present Wale: “Shades”

8 Hair Quotes – “…our discussion on ‘hair’ may seem like an infringement of certain inalienable rights from your perspective as hair for non-Blacks does not hold the same political, social and emotional consequences as it does for us, from childhood to present” (Huey, 2006) – “…the imagery that any truly sexy woman will ‘let her hair down’ before becoming intimate…suffice it to say that our natural texture of hair sadly still is taught to many of us at our earliest recollections to be inferior and in constant need of being corrected to be socially acceptable.” (Huey, 2006)

9 Hair (cont’d) Reminiscent of the Afro – Popular in 1970’s – Symbol of black power Today’s connotation – Nappy – Untamed – Unmanageable younger days Media’s perspective – “punctuate” blackness failure – Mulatto


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