By Susannah Walker
Among the Nineteen Twenties and the Nineteen Seventies, American fiscal tradition started to emphasize the worth of intake over creation. even as, the increase of latest mass media similar to radio and tv facilitated the ads and revenues of shopper items on an extraordinary scale. common and standing: promoting attractiveness to African American girls, 1920--1975, Susannah Walker analyzes an often-overlooked aspect of twentieth-century patron society as she explores the political, social, and racial implications of the enterprise dedicated to generating and advertising and marketing good looks items for African American ladies. Walker examines African American attractiveness tradition as an important section of twentieth-century consumerism, and she or he hyperlinks either matters to the complicated racial politics of the period. The efforts of black marketers to take part within the American economic climate and to accomplish self-determination of black attractiveness criteria frequently brought on clash in the African American neighborhood. also, a occurrence of white-owned agencies within the African American good looks sparked frequent resentment, even between advocates of complete integration in different parts of the yank financial system and tradition. involved African americans argued that whites had an excessive amount of effect over black attractiveness tradition and have been invading the industry, complicating concerns of actual visual appeal with questions of race and gear. according to a large choice of documentary and archival proof, Walker concludes that African American attractiveness criteria have been formed inside of black society up to they have been shaped in response to, not to mention imposed through, the bulk tradition. variety and standing demanding situations the thought that the civil rights and black energy pursuits of the Nineteen Fifties during the Seventies represents the 1st interval within which African americans wielded massive effect over criteria of visual appeal and wonder. Walker explores how good looks tradition affected black women's racial and female identities, the position of black-owned companies in African American groups, changes among black-owned and white-owned brands of good looks items, and the concept that of racial growth within the post--World warfare II period. in the course of the tale of the advance of black good looks tradition, Walker examines the interaction of race, type, and gender in twentieth-century the US.
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Extra info for Style and Status: Selling Beauty to African American Women, 1920-1975
J. Walker, Murray’s Superior Products, and Apex—had done a combined business of only $1 million. Although Madam C. J. Walker was probably one of the most recognized names in the field, the company’s sales reached just under $600,000 in 1920, its biggest year. 16 Despite Barnett’s efforts, white-owned companies’ advertisements in African American newspapers throughout the nation were more frequent and larger in size than those of black-owned companies. Competition from richer white companies certainly played a big part in the declining fortunes of black-owned companies in these years, but the Depression also put pressure on smaller, more financially precarious African American companies.
In some segments of African American society, a light brown complexion and straight hair were indeed associated with social and economic success. This link undoubtedly had its roots in the history of racial injustice and inequity in the United States, but the popularity of this beauty standard very likely had more to do with the color hierarchy within African American society than with the desire for whiteness. Many African Americans criticized this hierarchy, and few would have accepted the portrayal of African American features as ugly, but the straight hair and light skin ideal held prominence well into the twentieth century.
In contrast, Walker products were presented as modern, emblematic of the progress African Americans had made since emancipation. The Madam C. J. Walker Company appealed specifically to migrants and those still living in rural areas, who were perhaps not so far removed from these traditional home beauty treatments. Walker and other companies were portraying the hair-straightening combs, pomades, and pressing oils employed by trained “beauty culturists” in a well-appointed beauty shop as emblems of urban sophistication.