Throughout American culture the most influential depiction of beauty has been portrayed through the use of media and advertisements. As a culture, the idea of being labeled beautiful is extremely important. To be categorized as a beautiful black female you have to you have one attribute in particular, straight hair.
In the above picture we have a Soft and Beautiful Relaxer kit. On the box we see what appears to be a happy, smiling, brown skinned African American female. Even though the woman possesses a nice smile there is one quality that standouts out more than the others. The female possesses hair that is long, flowing, dark brown and most importantly straight . Her head takes up nearly half the box and draws you in to look at the box immediately. The box has a pink background and has gold and black letters.
At first glance at the box I immediately notice one thing, the attractive black female. The attractive female draws my attention towards the box and I notice the qualities she possesses. She has a nice smile, pretty brown skin, a natural glow and nice hair. Even though the woman has a naturally pretty face I believe that Soft and Beautiful are attempting to associate her beauty with the style of her hair. I believe that the company is also feeding into the stereotype of beautiful hair being associated with straight hair. Straight hair has certain qualities for instance its soft, smooth and appears healthy. In comparison natural hair appears to be dry, rough and woolly.
In The Cotillion or One Good Bull Is Half The Herd by John Oliver Killens, we have a direct example where straight hair was considered the most beautiful type of hair,” You mean Brenda’s got hair like white folks, Yes, her mother answered, that’s what I said at first, shes got good stuff up on her head”.
I secondly notice the words written on the box. The words are used to describe how the relaxer will effect the buyers hair. The relaxer will prevent breakage, dryness within your hair as well as the promise of having soft, silky, healthy looking hair. The advertisers use certain phrases to make their product more attractive and its effective. If I was woman I would want my hair to be considered soft, silky or healthy looking. The idea of having soft, healthy looking hair is a lot more attractive than possible having dry, nappy , rough, woolly hair.
The word that stands out the most to me is the word “Beautiful”. The word beautiful is defined as possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, or think about. The advertisers hope is that by associating the word “Beautiful” with the attractive black female that you will want to look like her. In order to look like her the advertisers are selling the idea that you have to buy their hair relaxer. With the words beautiful and hair relaxer associated together, it only causes people to want to buy the relaxer to be viewed as beautiful and further builds the stereotype that being beautiful requires you have relaxed hair.
“Beautiful” Dictionary.com, n.p, n.d. 21 March 2013.
“Soft and Beautiful Ultimate Protection Relaxer Kit–Regular” Soap.com, n.p., n.d. 21 March 2013.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.