Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Carole Woolford-Hunt

Second Advisor

Nadia Nosworthy

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

Problem

African American women and matters of importance pertaining to African American women are understudied and lacking within research. Understanding the ways in which majority culture media influences aspects related to women of color, especially those pertaining to hair texture, and their impact is essential to bring about awareness and mobilize changes that will positively affect the lives of Black women. Representation matters. When minority women of any culture value the majority culture they tend to devalue themselves. Representation matters and is important because if self-esteem, worth, goodness, and virtue is only portrayed in majority culture aesthetics, internalization of those influential concepts of good and bad takes place, and that begins to transform and seep into every orifice of the Black women’s life. The impact of beauty on power and economic and social mobility leaves many African American women disenfranchised and disempowered because the definition of beauty, especially as it pertains to hair texture, is narrow and the standard of beauty by cultural and societal standards denies benefits, economic, social, education, vocation, and otherwise, to those who are not defined as such.

Method

Participants completed surveys that measured a) media influence about hair texture, b) internalized racial oppression, c) ethnic identity, and d) self-efficacy. This work employed structural equation modeling to test the hypothesized model for the impact of media influence about hair texture on internalized racial oppression, ethnic identity, and self-efficacy; as well as three within group models for ethnic identification, hair texture, and skin tone.

Results

Structural equation modeling indicated that the original hypothesized theoretical model was a poor fit to the data. Therefore, the model was revised on the basis of theory and modification indices. The revised model revealed that media influence about hair texture had a positive direct effect on internalized racial oppression. Media influence about hair texture had a positive direct effect on ethnic identity but also a negative direct effect on ethnic identity as it pertains to affirmation, commitment, and belonging. Media influence about hair texture had a negative direct effect on self-efficacy. The revised model was also well fitted to the between groups ethnic identification, hair texture, and skin tone with the impact of media influence about hair texture on internalized racial oppression being two times greater in African American women than black women.

Conclusions

This study added to the limited body of literature concerning African American women and the role that media influence plays on internalized racial oppression, aspects of ethnic identity, and self-efficacy. It suggests that high media influence about hair texture contribute to high levels of internalized racial oppression; low levels of ethnic affirmation, commitment, and belonging; and low levels of self-efficacy.

It also confirmed that media influence about hair texture on internalized racial oppression, ethnic identity, and self-efficacy impacts African American and Black ethnically identified women, hair textures, and skin tones differently. In particular, this study suggests that higher levels of media influence increases minorities’ adoption of racist messages; higher levels of media influence lower one’s confidence of success and achievement; and higher levels of media influence lower minorities’ desire to affirm, belong, and commit to their ethnic group.

Subject Area

Mass media; Hair; African American women--Race identity; Self-efficacy

Share

COinS