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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: 08 December 2021

Is There a Black Woman Candidate Prototype?

Is There a Black Woman Candidate Prototype?

(p.120) 6 Is There a Black Woman Candidate Prototype?
Sister Style

Nadia E. Brown

Danielle Casarez Lemi

Oxford University Press

This chapter conducts a visual content analysis of Black women candidates’ headshots to examine whether there is a “phenotypic archetype” of Black women candidates to which Black women are exposed. Findings from an original dataset on the appearances of Black women candidates who sought office in 2018 align with prior research on colorism and representation. The chapter presents data that shows that the pool of Black women candidates skews lighter-skinned with straightened hair, and that candidates who wear braids or locs may disproportionately lose their contests. These findings suggest that Black women who seek local-level offices with natural styles like locs may find it difficult to enter political office and to rise to higher levels of office. The exploratory findings presented in the chapter illustrate a patterned preference for a certain type of Black women candidate, but it is noted that more research should be done on a larger scale to assess this trend.

Keywords:   colorism, candidates, braids, locs, straightened hair, headshots

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