Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level





Ron Warren

Committee Member

Myria Allen

Second Committee Member

Matthew Spialek


Black portrayals, Black women, body image, content analysis, media studies, quantitative analysis, skin tone, stereotypes


There are few bodies of literature that look at Black women’s body image in television media. When Black women were studied most research (Falconer & Neville, 2000; Jhally & Kilbourne, 2010; Smith, 2014; Shearon-Richardson, 2011;) compared them to White ideals. However, this study did a content analysis of Black women in predominantly Black or ethnically diverse television shows using qualitative studies that suggest a Black ideal. The researcher examined lead character(s) body shapes, comments about their body, hair texture and comments about their hair. This research looked at protective factors (aspects Black life that allow for more body satisfaction) like Black men and peers influence and strength of ethnic identity through the lens of Social Comparison Theory. A population of eight television shows and 262 episodes were recorded using Snap Stream and a sample of 48 episodes were coded. The results indicated that there are Black ideals represented in television media that focus on curvier body shapes and hair textures. Furthermore, the study found that comments regarding a Black woman's body and hair may not be common in these television shows. This research is an introduction in content analysis of Black TV media and a focus on Black body ideals. As more Black writers and producers are able to share their stories and creativity, Black female leads need to be examined to make sure they align with a healthy cultural ideal.