Black Women's Bodies Essay

767 words - 3 pages

In an excerpt from Janell Hobson’s “Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture” Hobson argues that the “image of black women’s bodies in culture are distorted in a way resembling the morphing of a person’s figure in a carnival mirror,” a term she coins as “un-mirroring.” She continues this metaphor by saying black women artists must “fight against this process by challenging dominant culture’s representation of black women’s bodies as being grotesque and changing the discourse to being one of beauty.” One may argue that black women are too diverse to be represented by one image, rather that they should fight to be regarded as individuals devoid of stereotypes and negative historical connotations. Stereotypes, which are too broad to be accurate, have negatively affected the image of the black female body in culture. To change the trajectory of this idea in the future, the discussion must be aimed towards persuading society that stereotypes are superficial judgments, and that black women should be regarded as a diverse group of individuals, not individual elements of a stereotype.
The human race is comprised of a plethora of shapes, sizes, colors, and figures. Some of these images are regarded as ‘distorted’ in dominant culture, but these distortions are what makes every person unique and should be celebrated. Stereotypes, whether positive or negative, take these ‘distortions’ and assign behavioral attributes to them. This assumes that all persons who meet a certain set of physical requirements behave in a similar way. Due to the diversity of the human race, this outcome is highly improbable. Despite this, stereotypes are often used to describe a group of people, usually amplifying a negative trait that may not be present in all individuals.
Some of the common stereotypes that demonstrate the negative attributes commonly associated with black women include the Jezebel, the mammy, the matriarch, and closer to present day, the welfare queen. The Jezebel, a stereotype that arose in response to whites attempting to justify their sexual abuse of black women, was characterized as being overly sexually aggressive. The mammy, also arising during the time period of slavery, desexualized black women and depicted them as undyingly loyal to the white families. By desexualizing the mammy, white women were able to...

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