This Independent Study examines how beauty standards and body ideals affect Black women’s perception of themselves and how young women challenge the hegemonic construction of beauty advertised in our society through media outlets. I conducted interviews with Black- identifying women at The College of Wooster between the ages of 18-22, to help me further explore young Black women’s ideas and opinions on beauty and body standards, including the potential influences that form their understandings. With the data collected, I explore how issues associated with body shape, skin complexion, hair type, and media sources, influence Black women in their daily lives. I identify several themes throughout my interviews that speak to the different arbiters that shape women’s perception of themselves: validation from peers and family; the lack of beauty products in Wooster; and the practices of loving one’s own body. Interviewing allowed me to investigate how media images affect the perception Black women have of themselves and hear their opinions about the portrayals of Black women in reality shows. I found that most of my participants disapprove of the media images of Black women in due to the way the representations still rely on stereotypes. A number of my participants expressed that those depictions perpetuate stereotypes of Black women and have a negative impact on women’s body image and self-esteem. My participants combat these images by finding self-confidence and embracing themselves. Ultimately, my research gives Black women the chance to speak their minds on body images and beauty ideals that are not highlighted enough in media or academia


Sikk, Helis


Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Women's Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Meonyez Goodwin