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Gender Identity Essay

3904 words - 16 pages



Racialized Representations of Female Beauty in Popular Culture (Name) University of New Mexico

RACIALIZED REPRESENTATIONS OF FEMALE BEAUTY Racialized Representations of Female Beauty in Popular Culture


For the past 22 years People magazine has composed a list of the 50 most beautiful people. The list typically includes movie and television stars, musicians, British royalty, models, and television personalities. Every year the magazine crowns the year’s “most beautiful” and features them on the cover. Of the 22 most beautiful 19 have been women and out of the 19 women 16 have been White. This signals to People’s ...view middle of the document...

All women should not be simply treated as one homogenous group when considering beauty representations (Sengupta, 2006). As



a result of marginalized races still being stereotyped and underrepresented in the realms of popular culture, one must consider how images of ideal beauty contribute and support such limited representations of nonwhite races. Additionally, gender and race are two very related identities that undoubtedly intersect in daily lives as well as in popular culture, so considering them together is of great importance when considering standards of beauty (Lind, 2004). Overall, examining racialized representations of female beauty norms in popular culture is significant because what is valued as beautiful in the society is an important indictor of what is generally valued in society as a whole. It also shows how popular culture’s construction of race is pervasive and prevailing in all cultural industries. The purpose of this paper is to look critically at how beauty norms and standards have become a raced concept in Western popular culture. It will attempt to show how various forms of popular culture misrepresent or under-represent women of color when portraying what it means to be beautiful. Secondly, there will be some emphasis put on how dominant White ideologies of beauty affect young women of color and their self-esteem or self-concept. In what follows will be an assessment of five peer-reviewed scholarly articles that help to support and elaborate on the purpose stated above. Each article will be summarized and then critiqued. The various articles included look at distinct ways women of color are mis-or-underrepresented in mediums of popular culture that promote beauty. Additionally, some of the articles examine how adolescent women of color, such as Asian and Latina Americans, assess their own physical appearance in response to the media representations of beauty. Finally, the paper will conclude with an emphasis placed on how well the articles presented supported and explained the paper’s purpose, and what future research should take an interest in.



In the article “Reading Representations of Black, East Asian and White Women in Magazines for Adolescent Girls,” the author used textual analysis of three fashion magazines aimed at adolescent girls to determine how different races were represented in relation to beauty. The results of the analysis aligned well with pervious research. When it came to importance of the models in individual advertisements White models were almost always featured as the major figure while Black women were typical minor figures, and East Asian women were always in the background (Sengupta, 2006). The presence of Asian women in background positions was congruent with the idea that Asians are considered outsiders in non-Asian countries. In the case of these fashion...

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