A study conducted by ESSENCE magazine regarding images of black women in the media revealed that most respondents saw themselves negatively represented in the media. Using a series of categories, the study finds that despite strides made in Hollywood and the small screen, successful portrayals of black women are still disproportionate when compared to their white counterparts.

The study, which appears in full in ESSENCE’s November issue,  was conducted in partnership with research consultants Added Value Cheskin. Titled “Images of Black Women in Media,” nine categories were established listing the negative types of black women that dominate the overall landscape.

Gold Diggers, Modern Jezebels, Baby Mamas, Uneducated Sisters, Ratchet Women, Angry Black Women, Mean Black Girls, Unhealthy Black Women, and Black Barbies were the category names of the negative images spread across TV, social media, music videos and film. Conversely, Young Phenoms, Real Beauties, Individualists, Community Heroines, Girls Next Door and Modern Matriarchs were the six images black women would like to see more of.


1. Negative imagery of Black women is seen often twice as frequently as positive imagery. For instance, 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.

2. Modern Jezebels and Gold Diggers are the types that cause Black women the most embarrassment. Our African-American respondents reported that they are most uncomfortable when White women view these sexual and greedy typologies.

Head over to ESSENCE’s website here to see the rest of the highlights of the study and pick up the latest issue to read more.

Photo: JGI

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