HOW TO GET AWAY WITH WHITEWASHING: EVALUATING THE EFFECTS OF THE BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL MOVEMENT ON BEAUTY STANDARDS THROUGH BEING MARY JANE AND HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
Beauty standards permeate American society and influence the ways women dress, style their hair, eat, and wear their makeup. African American women, however, have historically been excluded from the traditional beauty standard. The 1960s Black is Beautiful Movement attempted to expand the beauty standard to include African American women and celebrate their natural beauty, specifically their natural hair, darker skin, and various body types. This thesis examines what the differences and similarities in the representation of black female beauty in Being Mary Jane and How To Get Away With Murder reveal about how far reaching and effective the 1960s Black is Beautiful Movement was. Using historical accounts, interviews, photographs, and statistics, the Miss America pageant was used to determine the beauty standard that the Black is Beautiful Movement sought to change. After determining body type, hairstyle, and skin color to be the main determinants of beauty and the main aspects the movement fought against, a coding system was created to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze The Beulah Show from 1950 along with Being Mary Jane and How to Get Away with Murder from 2014 for their portrayals of these beauty aspects. As seen through Being Mary Jane and How to Get Away with Murder, the Black is Beautiful Movement was only effective in beautifying African American skin colors, not natural hair or larger body types, because African American women are depicted conforming to the standards of straight hair and thin body types instead of challenging the beauty standard. The majority of African American women in both shows have straight hair and average body types. Women with natural hair and overweight body types are associated with immorality and unhappiness. African American female characters with medium skin colors are beautified, while those with darker skin colors are similarly negatively portrayed, showing that the Black is Beautiful was minimally successful at expanding beauty standards.
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Report. Presidential Study Commission on Professional Recruitment, Ethics and Professional Standards Dickerson, Mary E.; Berner, Andrew J.; Fisher, William H.; Jones, Jennifer R.; Parris, Lou B.; Regan, Muriel B.; St. Clair, Guy (Special Libraries Association. Presidential Study Commission on Professional Recruitment, Ethics and Professional Standards. The PREPS Commission, 1992-06-08)