Wednesday, July 6, 2011

writing culture on the bodies of celebrities

As I've been reading The Persistence of Whiteness : Race and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema edited by Daniel Bernardi, one article in particular made itself manifest in my everyday life encounters.  In Framing Jennifer Lopez: Mobilizing Race From the Wide Shot to the Close-up,  Priscilla Pena Ovalle discusses how Lopez  at different points in her career has been whitened in her appearance and her characterization, while simultaneously remaining an Othered female.  For non-white female celebrities, the pressure to conform with mainstream standards of beauty go beyond thin frames and flawless skin, but include de-emphasizing ethnic features, especially hair.

Perhaps I am just a little idealistic in my hope that mainstream media images of beauty will one day reflect the diversity of women in all shapes and colors, but the "persistence of whiteness" is correct so far.  I was particularly struck by the images of Beyonce's latest album cover, which inscribes whiteness all over her body. It is probably touched up, but nevertheless, she seems almost unrecognizable from the Beyonce I remember from Destiny's Child and a very current example of what Pena Ovalle addresses in her article.   

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