image008*According to a survey of more than 1,200 respondents, which will appear in the November issue of Essence magazine, “negative imagery of Black women is often seen twice as frequently as positive imagery.”

They “told us that the images we encounter regularly on TV, in social media, in music videos and from other outlets are overwhelmingly negative and fall into categories that make us cringe — Gold Diggers, Modern Jezebels, Baby Mamas, Uneducated Sisters, Ratchet Women, Angry Black Women, Mean Black Girls, Unhealthy Black Women, and Black Barbies,” Dawnie Walton wrote last week in advance of the issue’s appearance on newsstands Friday.

“The study also revealed six types we feel we don’t see enough of in media, types we feel more genuinely reflect us and the Black women we know: Young Phenoms, Real Beauties, Individualists, Community Heroines, Girls Next Door and Modern Matriarchs. . . .”

Walton reported “surprising, bonus details and insights from our research”:

  • “85% of our Black women respondents reported they regularly see representations of Baby Mamas in media, while only 41% said they often see Real Beauties. The type seen least often? Community Heroines.”
  • “Modern Jezebels and Gold Diggers are the types that cause Black women the most embarrassment. . . .”
  • “Our Black respondents said the typologies that best represent the Black women they know in real life are the positive ones — including Real Beauties, Modern Matriarchs, Girls Next Door and Individualists.
  • “But non-Hispanic White women cited negative typologies as most representative of Black women they’ve encountered in real life — namely, Baby Mamas, Angry Black Women, Unhealthy Black Women and Uneducated Sisters.
  • “Younger women — ages 18-29 — were more likely than older women to be aware of negative typologies and also more likely to find them compelling. . . .”
  • “African-American women reported higher levels of happiness with their natural beauty and appearance, plus their spiritual lives and religious commitments. Meanwhile, White women reported higher satisfaction with their homes, their relationships with significant others, and their savings and investments.”
  • “Both Black and White women reported that the strongest influence for boosting their sense of worth is themselves. But while Black women cited their mothers as the second strongest influence, White women say they look to their significant others to lift them up.
  • “Interestingly, women who were compelled by negative typologies also reported they find physical features including lighter skin and straight hair to be most beautiful.”

Krissah Thompson wrote about this study for the Washington Post and reported Thursday that, “The magazine’s study differs from other assessments of the portrayal of black women in the media in an important way: It proposes a solution.

“The problem with the current images is that they reflect extremity, according to the magazine and the researchers. The solution is to uplift images in the ‘invisible middle.’ Those include figures such as, ‘the acculturated girl next door,’ ‘community heroines,’ ‘young phenoms’ and ‘modern matriarchs.’

“Marketing expert Pepper Miller, who was interviewed by researchers for the report, wrote in her book ‘Black Still Matters [in Marketing]’ that ‘there are the high profile celebrities, entertainers, and sports figures on one side, and the impoverished, crime-ridden, and down and out on the other. This flawed perception results in the rest of us — The Invisible Middle — being ignored and marginalized.’ “