An Analysis of Transformations in the Mass Media Constructions of Black Women’s Hair - the Leisurely Way

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Aretha ASAKITIKPI, Osun State University, Nigeria
Miliswa CHOENE, Monash University South Africa, South Africa
The Negroid woman has gone through various physical transformations in terms of her body and shape but for this paper specific attention will be on her hair which has passed through transformations in terms of shape and texture. The mass media through the entertainment industry has over the years visually presented and verbally described the Negroid woman in terms of her hair through adverts, celebrities and fashion. Exposure to such mass media messages for many is a leisure exercise which nevertheless has served as symbols of Black identity while re-enforcing concepts such as political and social class. Through the lens of the mass media Black women all over the world have been exposed to leisure coated messages that promote a desire and craving to change the shape and form the Negroid hair takes; a shape that has ensured that the Black hair care industry stays alive and thrives. Through drama, documentaries, news and adverts; constructed with the use of words and visuals, the African Negroid woman has been encouraged to hide her natural hair texture and replace it with long and straight hair in order to look ‘acceptable’ or ‘sexy’ thus promoting a false sense of self-worth. Today the story has changed slightly with more Black women coming out to express a sense of freedom through the grooming of their natural hair. Blogs and YouTube sites are created and designed to teach Black women the skills of growing and maintaining their natural hair. This paper considers some of these social media websites in order to analyze the new vocabulary and images associated with this transformation through leisure. To achieve this, a qualitative method of discourse analysis is employed using Multimodal techniques to analyze the words and images used by Black women in defining, describing and discussing the Negroid hair.