Colorism in Popular Culture

This week’s film and readings raise issues about how beauty is defined in American culture and whether the practice of colorism exists in American society. Colorism can be defined as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”

After watching this week’s film clips (Souls of Black Girls-2008) and completing this week’s readings, answer the following question: Do you think colorism still exists in American society? Or do you think that contemporary American culture now embraces diverse forms of beauty? Or do you think society still engages in colorism while also embracing some diverse ideas of beauty? (This will be your thesis in the paper)

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To answer this question, you should select an advertisement, a film, a television show-or anything that might provide evidence that colorism might-or might not-exist. In trying to prove your thesis above, you should address the following:

1. How is beauty defined in your selected source? (If relevant), how does the source define what is not beautiful? (If relevant),how does society respond to beautiful and non-beautiful people according to the source? Does your selected source offer a gendered definition of beauty? (That is, does it define attractiveness differently for men versus women)?

2. How might your selected source empower or oppress women? How might your source influence young women or young girls?

3. Consider how your selected source compares with the readings and the film from this week. What do they have in common and/or how are they different? In particular, what would Etcoff say about your selected source?

Papers should average about 3-4 pages, double-spaced in a standard font such as Arial.

I would recommend writing a 2-3 sentence “introduction” where you state your position on the overall question. I would then devote a paragraph to each scene that you’re analyzing to support your position.

Papers should be proofread for grammar and spelling. I always encourage students to write as they speak-albeit with the usual attention to strong grammar and spelling. For more information on Colorism in Popular Culture read :

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