African American Women in Media - The Herald: Opinion

African American Women in Media

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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017 5:28 pm

Minority women in media are often portrayed differently than their white counterparts and oftentimes, minority women receive hateful backlash. In many cases women of color are generally criticized while white women are often praised for doing the same things.

This is extremely prominent in news articles. According to Times Magazine’s website, a photo of a black woman breastfeeding her child at graduation brought about controversy while a similar photo of a white woman went viral.

Karlesha Thurman received a barrage of negative comments that ranged from “breastfeeding at graduation is inappropriate” to “she shouldn’t have had a baby to begin with.”

In contrast, Jacci Sharkey received positive comments after posting a photo of her breastfeeding her son at her graduation from University of Sunshine Coast in Australia. Commenters described her photo as “beautiful” and praised her for a “job well done.”

News articles are not the only media outlet in which African American women are portrayed negatively in contrast to  women. Advertisements from major companies such as Dove and MAC have received backlash for their portrayal of African American models in recent years.

According to Special Broadcasting Service in Australia, Dove released an advertisement promoting their new line of Dove body wash. In this ad showed model Lola Ogunyemi transforming into a white woman after using the product. While Dove thought it represented diversity, some people took as a representation of black being equivalent to dirty or uncleanliness.

Dove later apologized for this advertisement claiming that it did not depict what they originally intended. Historically, black people have been seen as stereotypically unclean and animalistic. Unfortunately, some advertisements still unintentionally promote this idea today.

Other companies do not promote this kind of stereotype, but consumers have accused their advertisements of being racist anyway. For example, MAC Cosmetics released a photo on their Instagram of a black model’s lips wearing their new Royal Romance Lip Color. The photo was of Aamito Stacie Lagum, winner of Africa’s Next Top Model.

While some consumers described her lips as beautiful or stunning, others blatantly said that black women will never be as beautiful as white women. MAC released a statement on Instagram condemning these hateful comments stating that “MAC stands for and respects all ages, all races, all sexes. We celebrate the beauty of individuality and the confidence to be who you are.”

African American women and white women are represented differently in media and in society. As in the breastfeeding situation, both news outlets and the general public condemned the African American woman while praising the white woman. In contrast, the portrayal of African American women as being unclean has negatively impacted public opinion.


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