'Making Black More Beautiful’: Black Women and the Cosmetics Industry in the Post-Civil Rights Era

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Abstract

This article explores how the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement transformed attitudes towards beauty standards within black communities and how the cosmetics industry tried to capitalise on these shifts in their marketing strategies. It charts how redefined beauty standards generated a proliferation of cosmetics companies and products exclusively for black women, and their success attracted widespread attention from across the industry. However, this article demonstrates that while the cosmetics industry removed certain racialised barriers to mainstream American beauty culture, the commodification of the language and imagery of “Black is Beautiful” in cosmetics advertising often reinforced gendered expectations as well as heightening tensions within black communities in regard to colourism and business ownership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-574
Number of pages18
JournalGender & History
Volume33
Issue number2
Early online date11 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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