2023-2024 Catalog

AMST 268 Style Politics: Beauty and Fashion in Black Women's History

This course uses notions about beauty and the female body to interrogate the complex relationship between gender ideals and the politics of race in the United States. Beginning in the 19th century and continuing to the present, we will examine the ways that advertisers, pageant directors, beauty culturists, activists, teenagers and entertainers have shaped and redefined standards of beauty for American women at key moments in U.S. history. We will analyze these ever-shifting racialized standards of beauty in relation to American demographic, economic, and political developments, such as the rise of Jim Crow, the emergence of the New Woman, and the black power movement. We will be particularly attentive to the ways that black women have challenged dominant beauty scripts by defining their own set of beauty ideals, developing oppositional viewing strategies, and using fashion and the beauty culture industry as a springboard for political activism.


4 units

Cross Listed Courses

BLST 268

Core Requirements Met

  • United States Diversity