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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 4 regimes of representation. Previous controlling images, in various transformations, incarnations and mutations, continue to influence how African-American women are seen and represented. Even though musical performance and videos have been available to black women, it has been at a price. Black bodies are always marked and on display. Visual media create arenas of spectacle that focus on the body and its performative meanings. Furthermore, the marks of "black" and "woman" make African-American women hypervisible in this arena but nonetheless still "freaks." Black women are marked as "other" in an arena dominated by the norm: affluent, white, heterosexual males. In addition, in black male dominated arenas, their gender marks them as “Other.” However, like all music artists, black women must think of ways to get attention through all the clutter and noise that pervades all aspects of the entertainment industry. The “hottentot” history black women have had to suffer makes this even more difficult. In the entertainment industry, black women are often relegated to stereotypical images already recognizable to the dominant public (Dates and Barlow, 1993; Turner, 1994). Attempting to break with these images can be a daunting task and may impede an artist's ability to maintain a substantial career in the industry. Furthermore, black women presenting themselves publicly must reconcile this historical baggage with the desire to express themselves freely in all their capacities. Black female music artists, especially via their music videos, provide us with an opportunity to examine this reconciliation and decide if black female music artists have made any progress in displaying their bodies as they want. Considering this, how do African-American female music artists Missy Elliott and Kimberly Jones deal with the pressure of presenting their bodies to the public? As music

Authors: Brooks, TaKeshia.
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Black Womanhood 4
regimes of representation. Previous controlling images, in various transformations,
incarnations and mutations, continue to influence how African-American women are seen
and represented. Even though musical performance and videos have been available to
black women, it has been at a price. Black bodies are always marked and on display.
Visual media create arenas of spectacle that focus on the body and its performative
meanings. Furthermore, the marks of "black" and "woman" make African-American
women hypervisible in this arena but nonetheless still "freaks." Black women are marked
as "other" in an arena dominated by the norm: affluent, white, heterosexual males. In
addition, in black male dominated arenas, their gender marks them as “Other.” However,
like all music artists, black women must think of ways to get attention through all the
clutter and noise that pervades all aspects of the entertainment industry. The “hottentot”
history black women have had to suffer makes this even more difficult. In the
entertainment industry, black women are often relegated to stereotypical images already
recognizable to the dominant public (Dates and Barlow, 1993; Turner, 1994).
Attempting to break with these images can be a daunting task and may impede an artist's
ability to maintain a substantial career in the industry. Furthermore, black women
presenting themselves publicly must reconcile this historical baggage with the desire to
express themselves freely in all their capacities. Black female music artists, especially
via their music videos, provide us with an opportunity to examine this reconciliation and
decide if black female music artists have made any progress in displaying their bodies as
they want.
Considering this, how do African-American female music artists Missy Elliott and
Kimberly Jones deal with the pressure of presenting their bodies to the public? As music


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