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you a stone freak in yo own skin: Missy Elliott's and Lil' Kim's Constructions of Black Womanhood
Unformatted Document Text:  Black Womanhood 18 Although Ebony did not feature Jones on the cover, there is at least one photo of her on each page of the feature. So it is telling that the first photo is one that displays the very sexualization for which Jones is infamous. She invites the gaze in her midriff- baring sleeveless shirt and extra short shorts. Her facial expression is one that exudes sexuality. Of course, she wears lots of diamonds. The two shots on the second page show Jones on stage, one performing and one presenting an award. In the performance shot, she is scantily clad in what appears to be a mesh outfit and gold bikini bottom. The second shot is one of the infamous purple pasty. The third-page photo shows Jones signing autographs at a CD release party. This is the only photo that does not focus on Jones’ body and shows her in a non-sexualized light. The last photo is an early publicity shot of Jones with her former group Junior M.A.F.I.A. She is the only female in the group and while the men wear suits and ties, she wears a backless minidress and gives a sexy leer toward to the camera. Most significantly, she had not yet gone blonde or worn blue contacts. Jones’ attitude of herself here seems to be that she is a sex symbol and should be seen as such. Unlike Elliott, she does not defy the male gaze; she invites it. Berger (1974) writes that in art form, women are usually treated as objects and men are the owners. He suggests, "This unequal relationship is so deeply embedded in our culture that it still structures the consciousness of many women. They do to themselves what men do to them. They survey, like men, their own femininity" (Berger, 1974, p. 63). VIBE. Photos shot for VIBE differ drastically from those of Essence and Ebony. Both artists are featured against backdrops with a surrealistic edge. Elliott's cover shot is an extreme close-up of her face; the small glimpse of her shoulders gives the semblance of

Authors: Brooks, TaKeshia.
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background image
Black Womanhood 18
Although
Ebony did not feature Jones on the cover, there is at least one photo of
her on each page of the feature. So it is telling that the first photo is one that displays the
very sexualization for which Jones is infamous. She invites the gaze in her midriff-
baring sleeveless shirt and extra short shorts. Her facial expression is one that exudes
sexuality. Of course, she wears lots of diamonds. The two shots on the second page
show Jones on stage, one performing and one presenting an award. In the performance
shot, she is scantily clad in what appears to be a mesh outfit and gold bikini bottom. The
second shot is one of the infamous purple pasty. The third-page photo shows Jones
signing autographs at a CD release party. This is the only photo that does not focus on
Jones’ body and shows her in a non-sexualized light. The last photo is an early publicity
shot of Jones with her former group Junior M.A.F.I.A. She is the only female in the
group and while the men wear suits and ties, she wears a backless minidress and gives a
sexy leer toward to the camera. Most significantly, she had not yet gone blonde or worn
blue contacts. Jones’ attitude of herself here seems to be that she is a sex symbol and
should be seen as such. Unlike Elliott, she does not defy the male gaze; she invites it.
Berger (1974) writes that in art form, women are usually treated as objects and men are
the owners. He suggests, "This unequal relationship is so deeply embedded in our culture
that it still structures the consciousness of many women. They do to themselves what
men do to them. They survey, like men, their own femininity" (Berger, 1974, p. 63).
VIBE. Photos shot for VIBE differ drastically from those of Essence and Ebony. Both
artists are featured against backdrops with a surrealistic edge. Elliott's cover shot is an
extreme close-up of her face; the small glimpse of her shoulders gives the semblance of


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