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Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps

A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?


Adria Y. Goldman and Damion Waymer

Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps explores representations of Black women in one of the most powerful, popular forms of reality television – the docusoap. Viewers, critics, and researchers have taken issue with what they consider to be unflattering, one-dimensional representations. This book discusses images of Black women in reality television during the 2011 viewing year, when much criticism arose. These findings provide a context for a more recent examination of reality television portrayals during 2014, following many reality stars’ promises to offer new representations. The authors discuss the types of images shown, potential readings of such portrayals, and the implication of these reality television docusoap presentations. The book will be useful for courses examining topics such as popular culture; mass media and society; women’s studies; race and media; sex and gender; media studies; African American issues in mass communication; and gender, race and representation, as well as other graduate-level classes.
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Chapter 6. Physical Appearance




“Honey, Ms. Quad’s body is snatched. You can’t buy this in the store, honey. Sorry, Heavenly [and] Mariah.”


Like the 2011 analysis, the 2014 season of the docusoaps featured Black women with various complexions, body contours, and hairstyles. All of the women on the show do not meet the Eurocentric body standards that have long been reinforced in media representations. The Real Housewives of Atlanta, for example, features Kandi, who is a shorter woman with a more curvaceous body type. On the same docusoap viewers see Cynthia, a taller woman with a more slender frame. On Blood, Sweat, and Heels Melyssa and Brie have lighter skin tones while Geneva and Daisy present darker skin tones. On L.A. Hair, Kim and her mother Jas have darker skin tones. China, on the other hand, has a lighter skin tone. During an episode of this docusoap, viewers also watch Kim prepare for a photo shoot for a book project about the beauty of dark skin tones. ← 79 | 80 →

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