Study Shows How Media Portrayals Affect Black Girls

By Diuguid, Lewis | News Sentinel, September 25, 2016 | Go to article overview

Study Shows How Media Portrayals Affect Black Girls


Diuguid, Lewis, News Sentinel


African-American girls don't often see themselves depicted in a positive way in the media.

That was the finding of a study done by Gholnecsar E. Muhammad at Georgia State University and Sherell A. McArthur at Boston University published in Multicultural Perspectives. It shows how stereotypical media images affect black girls' sense of themselves and how society views them.

"Adolescents are affected by popular culture and tailor their fashion, style, slang or sexuality to the music, media and celebrities they listen to and watch," said the study, which involved interviews with eight Midwest African-Americans ages 12 to 17. "Stereotypical images throughout history have demonized and dehumanized black women.

"It is our intention to move toward a horizon of providing black girls the space needed to not only make sense of the representations available through media outlets but also provide spaces to accept, resist, reorient or negotiate such depictions as they develop identity."

The study can help moms, dads, other family members and teachers understand the pop culture effect on black girls, and then get them to know the truth. It's sad that this kind of deprogramming and reprogramming must occur, but it's needed because of the U.S. media.

The study found the media depict black females as loud, angry, bossy, unkind, tough, aggressive, big, violent, confrontational, sexualized and objectified. They're also judged by their hair -- whether it's considered "good" or "bad" hair.

"Black women are being measured against white, Eurocentric notions of beauty," the study notes. "Historically, 'good hair' is defined as a close approximation to white hair with texture that is wavy, silky, soft and of long length, while 'bad hair' is defined as tightly coiled, knotted, nappy and coarse hair."

What's sad is these were punishing media depictions when my parents were kids, when I was growing up, and they continue today. …

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