Beauty on Whose Terms? Black Women and Girls' Beauty Work Across Settings

This project uses photo-elicitation (over 1000 photos) and interviews (over 100 interviews) to explore how Black women and girls use fashion, hairstyling, and makeup to navigate different spaces and negotiate their identities. I am especially interested in how Black women and girls make their daily beauty choices relative to their experiences in schools, workplaces, public spaces, and/or Black communities. I recruit a diverse group of participants who vary not only in terms of major social locations such as age, class background, and sexuality, but also in terms of body size and type, gender presentation, and transgender and nonbinary femme identities. Such variation is important for expanding dominant narratives about how Black women and girls do beauty and how they are represented in the larger beauty discourse. The primary goal of my project is to understand how Black women and girls use beauty as a tool to help them traverse gendered and racialized institutions. In addition to the traditional dissertation defense, this project will culminate in a community exhibit of photos, digital art created by me from the photo data, and poetry and music produced from the interview data to continue my commitment to public sociology.

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