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Sister StyleThe Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites$
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Nadia E. Brown and Danielle Casarez Lemi

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197540572

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197540572.001.0001

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date: 26 May 2022

What Black Women Political Elites Look Like Matters

What Black Women Political Elites Look Like Matters

(p.46) 3 What Black Women Political Elites Look Like Matters
Sister Style

Nadia E. Brown

Danielle Casarez Lemi

Oxford University Press

This chapter centers the narratives of Black women political elites to demonstrate how they think about their professional image and how they craft their look in response to voters’ expectations. A series of one-on-one interviews with Black women political elites shows that these women are deeply aware of how their bodies are assessed and that they are constantly determining how they want to present themselves. This chapter addresses Black women’s agency—how Black women prefer to look given the constraints of their physical characteristics. It also considers the political structure—how Black women believe voters and constituents view them based on their chosen appearance or styling choices. The chapter finds that Black women political elites vary in how they choose to present themselves and in their rationale for their styling choices. However, all the women interviewed recognize the racist and sexist constraints that inform their personal aesthetics.

Keywords:   campaigns, elite interviews, professional imagery, natural hair, Black politics

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