Beauty standards: negotiations of social life among African American college women
Gardner, Sheena Kaori
The literature concerning the relationship between black women and beauty has revealed conflicting findings: some argue that black women are negatively affected by ‘white’ beauty ideals while others argue for the existence of an alternative ‘black’ beauty standard. The purpose of this research is to describe and analyze young African American women’s awareness of beauty standards and their perception of themselves with relation to these standards, examine whether beauty standards are negotiable, and explore how perceptions of self affect daily social interactions. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with black females between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five that were current students in one of three colleges in Mississippi (N = 21). Results reveal that context is an important element for understanding how black women relate to and use beauty standards. Their understanding of beauty standards and the expectations of others dictates how they manage/present themselves in a variety of situations.