Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Big and Sassy is Back: Large Black Women in American Advertising

Has aunt Jemima made a comeback, or are Americans just more comfortable laughing at the antics of large and boisterous Black women? An article in today business section of The New York Times looks at the return of a familiar stereotype in American commercials: the "boisterous, overbearing, controlling and extremely agressive" and need I mention -- large -- Black woman. Is it racist stereotyping, purveyed by white ad hacks or some sort of equal opportunity fun-making that brings us all together? I'm not sure that's the right question or that any questions were answered by the article in the times. But, it's good to know that someone is keeping watch to make sure Aunt Jemimah doesn't quietly slip off her pearls and lace collar, stealthily don her doo-rag and apron and slip right back onto the tube - while we all chortle and snicker...maybe she already has.

An Image Popular in Films Raises Some Eyebrows in Ads
NYT: August 1, 2006

Ad executives and casting folks keep pretending that each of these images stands alone, when it does no such thing. Every image echoes every other such image throughout the history of images. The woman on the plane isn't just the woman on the plane, she's simultaneously every other large, black woman we've been exposed to for 200 years. And that makes it harder for a large, black woman to be anything other than that, both in the media and in reality.

The ad executive brought up the comparison of using bald men in advertising. What if every bald man were portrayed as a whiny loser? Then that would be anti-bald. Same when every large black woman is shown as loud and aggressive. It is naive at best and disingenuous at worst for ad exectives not to be aware of the power of the images they purvey.

-cinque h.
what’s really poignant is the back ground faces that contrast and propagate the stereotype that black women are fearful and overly concerned about the what is suppose to be normal excitement. the strong/nervous trope. again, ostracized from fun and freedom.
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