The Development of Family Beauty Narratives & Healthy Decision Making Among Black Women

Workshop presenter J. Tanisha Garnier, spoke on the body image and beauty narratives IMAG2051among Black women that emphasize the role of female kinship in the co-continuation of beauty, body image and health habits in Black families.

She first went over a few theories:

Black Feminist Theory — This contextualizes the intersections of race and gender within black women’s experiences; increases awareness of misrepresentations of black women; investigates the oppression of our experiences; emphasizes the experienced realities of our lives; and how cultural awareness translating into social action.

Narrative Theory: Marriage and family therapy; which highlights the voice of clients

Transgenerational Theory: Multigenerational transmission (e.g. substance abuse, career paths, etc), in other words, patterns often repeat themselves through generations.

Other points J. Tanisha touched on:

  • The role of black mothers include providing social and racial buffering and survival against assaults of racism and sexism; combating negative public regard; and instilling values of racial identity.
  • Other-mothers and fictive kin assist blood mothers in the responsibilities of child care for short- and long-term periods and include both formal and informal arrangements (e.g., grandmas, aunts/cousins, etc.); they also help to relieve stress.
  • Studies support the idea that girl’s self-esteem is higher when parents emphasize racial identity.
  • Depression issues often go undetected because they often ignore other criteria that affect black women such as skin color, hair texture and nose sizes; they also go undetected due to stereotypes (low access to services, obstacles to receiving treatment – time, money, accessibility).

In closing, we have to deconstruct harmful narratives by: identifying the old, unhelpful story; exploring the history and effect; exploring the exceptions; highlighting the unique re-descriptions and new story; and acknowledging witnesses to our new story.

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