Women and the Media: The Influence of Magazines, and such...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Recent News: Don Imus and the Women of the Rutgers University Basketball Team

Many people continue to stand on the belief that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Some might ridicule this type of thinking by saying that there is one true way one can be beautiful. When it comes to women’s beauty, there continues to be much debate about what is acceptable and what is not.

In recent news, Don Imus has been put on the hot seat for his on-air comment regarding the Rutgers University Women’s basketball team. Ranking second in the nation, the women were offended when Imus referred to them as “nappy-headed hoes.” This comment alone created an uproar in the African-American community, with requests that Imus resign or be fired as a radio commentator, which would end his 29- year career.

This issue poses a question many people might not think about right away upon hearing about it. The question being, why were the women offended when Imus said what he said? There are many answers to this; some of them stemming from the way African-American women have viewed themselves in the past and the way the word “nappy” has been used as a derogatory term. Another reason that I was made aware of is that naturally curly hair is not beautiful, this comment coming from black women themselves. I found that quite shocking and wondered why a “natural” look would be considered unappealing. People are now forced to wrestle with the stereotypical notion that beauty is associated with “straight hair and light skin.”

Race is definitely evident in this current media phenomenon. This would not have been this big a deal if the women Imus was referring to were another race other than Afro-American. Ideal beauty have been so distorted that one’s natural hair texture is now “unacceptable,” allowing room for others to also view it as “ugly.”

Terry Pluto, author of one the articles dissecting this occurrence, says that “there are many blessings of the women’s movement in athletics, but one of the best is that girls and young women are not made to feel inferior because they lack what society says is classic beauty.” The women affected seem to take Imus’ comments in stride in that most of them are already confident in their looks because they have already identified who they are. Most of them know that beauty is definitely not defined by hair texture.

One of the defenses for Imus is that African-American rappers are known to refer to the women as “bitches and hoes,” recounts Imani Perry’s article Who(se) Am I? The Identity of Women in Hip-Hop. In her article, she describes the misogynistic ways of hip-hop. What everyone is trying to figure out in this current news event is the reason for all the heat towards Imus. The bottom line remains simple: Imus must not use degrading references toward a specific group of people and blame it on hip-hop. Not only that, but the culture’s misrepresentation of true beauty should also be blamed as a catalyst in this who ordeal. If it were not for the constant view that a woman must be about five and a half inches tall, ninety pounds with “straight” hair, some of this debate could have been avoided. The issue with race still remains, as their continues to be ignorance amongst “educated” groups of people.