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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 26 Ebony magazine. Such a task may seem rather ironic given the dominant stereotypes of black women in dominant culture. However, it could be argued that Jones’ sexual image is perceived as threatening therefore unacceptable in dominant culture. This does not, though, explain her entrance into the fashion elite. Elliott's ability to appear non- threatening has afforded her opportunities closed to Jones. Interestingly, Jones’ more “acceptable” body has also afforded her other opportunities. She has been embraced as a fashion icon, sought after model and spokeswoman of a major cosmetics campaign in which proceeds go to AIDS charities. However, as the author of the VIBE feature points out, "In the treacherous world of glamour, where the rules change and racism is in the details, Kim's blond wigs and nose contouring give stylists, photographers, and editors permission to erase race from her equation. It's the unspoken price of entry" (Marriott, 2001, p. 132). This suggests that to some extent black women are not allowed to be both "black" and "woman" within the dominant sphere. Of course there are several limitations to this analysis. Only one video from each artist was analyzed. These works were done at the beginning of their careers. These works alone are not sufficient to analyzing the transformations both women had undergone since they made the videos. Also, Elliott and Jones represent two extreme examples of black womanhood. One has to consider what other types of constructions have been created by other artists such as Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Macy Gray, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Angie Stone (who is a very interesting case of reinvention). Although these women alone cannot represent all aspects of black womanhood, they can illustrate that there is no simple dichotomy in this construction. Another option is to examine the works of emerging African-American female directors such as Nzingha Stewart. Also,

Authors: Brooks, TaKeshia.
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Black Womanhood 26
Ebony magazine. Such a task may seem rather ironic given the dominant stereotypes of
black women in dominant culture. However, it could be argued that Jones’ sexual image
is perceived as threatening therefore unacceptable in dominant culture. This does not,
though, explain her entrance into the fashion elite. Elliott's ability to appear non-
threatening has afforded her opportunities closed to Jones. Interestingly, Jones’ more
“acceptable” body has also afforded her other opportunities. She has been embraced as a
fashion icon, sought after model and spokeswoman of a major cosmetics campaign in
which proceeds go to AIDS charities. However, as the author of the VIBE feature points
out, "In the treacherous world of glamour, where the rules change and racism is in the
details, Kim's blond wigs and nose contouring give stylists, photographers, and editors
permission to erase race from her equation. It's the unspoken price of entry" (Marriott,
2001, p. 132). This suggests that to some extent black women are not allowed to be both
"black" and "woman" within the dominant sphere.
Of course there are several limitations to this analysis. Only one video from each
artist was analyzed. These works were done at the beginning of their careers. These
works alone are not sufficient to analyzing the transformations both women had
undergone since they made the videos. Also, Elliott and Jones represent two extreme
examples of black womanhood. One has to consider what other types of constructions
have been created by other artists such as Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Macy Gray, Jill Scott,
Erykah Badu and Angie Stone (who is a very interesting case of reinvention). Although
these women alone cannot represent all aspects of black womanhood, they can illustrate
that there is no simple dichotomy in this construction. Another option is to examine the
works of emerging African-American female directors such as Nzingha Stewart. Also,


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