In the world of the media, races often, other than the majority, get subjected to almost TV-like tropes in order to preserve an image of them. While there are many minorities that suffer from this problem, as a black female, I’m not going to speak on their behalf or try to relate my own issues to theirs, seeing as that is not fair. I am solely here to speak about how black women are so poorly portrayed in the media, and how this affects many black girls and women alike.
The trope of having a very overweight yet sassy black female character is one that was the most prevalent for a while in the modern TV industry. Showing that someone who is overweight can also be funny while pulling in the minority card as well. This is problematic due to the strong ties to many shows just having a token minority that they don’t have to put much character development into as well. Aside from this, another popular trope is the “Bad Girl” and the “Baby Mama” which describes someone as being very dramatic and causing a lot of problems for several people. The shows such as “Bad Girls Club” and even the hit TV show “Empire” both don’t paint black women in the best light, showing them as fighters and people who cause trouble for others, even though this isn’t what the shows are meant to represent, these are the most common synopsis from them as a whole.
Now, all of this is not what you want younger, more easily influenced children to see when they think of black women, right? According to the Washington Post, “Younger Black women are more exposed to the extremes. They are more likely to see the negative typologies due to their higher media consumption in general, their higher tendency to look into popular culture for cues and their interest in broad self-expression,”. Now as the expert states, these negative types of portrayals take an effect on the self-esteem and expression of the younger generation by showing them that they’ll never be more than what the media portrays them to be.
Aside from this, there is still the hypersexualization of black women as a whole, mainly in the way their bodies are normally shaped or in that they are an “exotic” type of women to have around. This in itself is inherently degrading to black females because it allows us to be portrayed as nothing but an object to the media's eyes. This doesn’t excuse the use of black women in music videos strictly for the “sexiness” factor of their bodies since that only contributes to their hypersexualization.
Now, here comes the real question: Is this better than it was before black women were even used in TV? The answer is that it is just as bad. Imagine only having stereotypes of your race shown on TV versus not having any type of representation at all. Since poor representation is equal to none at all, is it really worth complaining to the big name companies? These companies who run the media for these shows clearly do not care about who or what is being represented, or even how it could affect others as well. This is why us, as a society need to focus on how we should help the black women get the proper type of portrayal, but not for ourselves, but for the future generation.