04 October 2012

Black Beauty in the Media

There are many connotations in the media and society that still portray African women in a negative light. For example, Naomi Campbell is one of the world’s most famous supermodels yet she is constantly being targeted as being angry, outspoken and aggressive. Many African women still have to deal with issues of being considered less worthy, due to their skin colour.

In American mainstream media, many black women depicted as beautiful are either light skinned or mixed race such as Beyoncé Knowles, Halle Berry and Tyra Banks.


Halle Berry

Tyra Banks

However, there are also dark skinned women such as Gabrielle Union, Lauren London and Nia Long that are also known for their beauty.

Gabrielle Union

Lauren London

Nia Long

Black women are virtually invisible in British media. Women with darker skin are unfairly
under- represented in the worlds of beauty, fashion and entertainment. “In order to be considered beautiful, the faces and bodies of multicultural women must display only minor differences from the standard white western European look- a one-dimensional standard of beauty. Women of colour are seldom shown as role models unless they have, like Beverly Johnson, virtually Caucasian features” (Wolf 1991:7). Britain also tends to portray a beauty that is not 100% black; favouring mixed raced or light skinned black women in the media. This can be seen with celebrities such as Alesha Dixon, Thandie Newton, Leona Lewis and French model Noemie Lenoir, all mixed raced.

Alesha Dixon

Thandie Newton

Leona Lewis

Noemie Lenoir

In a western society, where the looks of one race are deemed most attractive, the white woman continues to remain the mainstream ideal of beauty. People of many races believe that to be considered beautiful and perfect one must be white, slim, tall, have a straight nose and blonde hair. “Beauty is not universal or changeless, though the West pretends that all ideals of female beauty stem from one Platonic Ideal Woman” (Wolf 1991:12). Minority women are seen as less beautiful because they do not possess the aesthetics of white women. Whilst oppressive, it is also pitiful that the media strongly imply a single type of beauty despite a wide range of women of different races in society. The media appear to force this issue onto the public as if to reinforce the ideology.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Keira Knightly

Scarlett Johansson

Now there is no denying that these women are beautiful, but to act like this is the only beauty ideal is wrong as beauty comes in many forms.


  1. Ohmygosh if I could jump into my computer screen, come out of yours, and hug you I would! I completely agree with everything you said, and I've heard these quotes and similar ones too studying psychology and sociology... it's a serious shame that we haven't moved on completely in society, there is still that unspoken law within the media that doesn't seem to want to accept women of all nationalities/backgrounds/physical and mental abilities etc, as beautiful... and it is that ignorance from the media that is perpetuating the constant insecurities and lack of opportunities for those deserving...okayyyyy.... let me control my miniature essay....to summarise... here is a virtual hug *HUG*.... your blog makes me happy... and I am now following <3



  2. HaHa loving the idea of you jumping out of my computer screen to give me a hug!!! Too funny! Glad you like my post hun and yes I think it is a very serious situation, which desperately needs to be addressed. It really annoys me! Me, my sister and friends (both male and female) have this conversation quite regularly and when we try to think of dark skin black females in the industry, we struggle majorly. Sad sad state of affairs. Even trying to think of females of other ethnic backgrounds is a struggle too! I did my dissertation on this subject as I find it very interesting and it's a subject close to my heart. I too could write another essay on this topic but I won't do it here! Sadly, I don't think it will be changing anytime soon. xx