Major and Classification
Communication and Gender Studies
Alice Echols, Ph.D.
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism LAS- Social Science & Communications
“Marginalized Beauty: Aesthetic Values in Second Wave Feminism 1960-1975”
The purpose of this research is to reveal how feminism’s second-wave politics and notions of beauty from 1960-1975 excluded and marginalized women of color. Currently, academic literature lacks an understanding of how the deconstruction of beauty norms affected minority participation in the second-wave movement. Therefore, the goal of this project is to convey how white feminist stances against conventional notions of beauty specifically prevented participation and reduced the interest of Black and Latina women in the feminist movement. Furthermore, it provides new implications for the fractionalization of the second-wave. Evidence for this research stems from an intersectional analysis of second-wave feminist theory and feminist organizations from 1960-1975, primary accounts from women who were active in Black, Chicana, and white second-wave organizations, and secondary analyses from historical viewpoints. Though the second-wave movement from 1960-1975 was not a unitary cause to begin with, white feminist political stances against female aesthetics and beauty added to the already vast marginalization and oppression of women of color, contributing further to the fractionalization of their movement. Although white feminists deemed beauty practices oppressive, these practices were important political works for women of color, as they integrated their image as a valuable part of American society. As indicated in my research, when Blacks and Latinas gained recognition for beauty, they were making a name for themselves and gaining representation in the public eye. This project sheds light on the value of positive cultural imagery through beauty practices among underrepresented populations and how white feminists marginalized women of color by failing to consider such issues through a proper intersectional analysis. The juxtaposition of findings presented in this analysis concludes that white feminist notions of beauty proved to be an additional barrier for a uniform and diverse movement, expediting the schisms present among the second-wave.