Social media and the cultural ideology of beauty among young black women in South Africa
Keywords:Social media, Communication, Mass communication, Celebrity culture, Beauty, Feminine body image, Identity, South Africa
Celebrities and celebrity culture tend to influence young people’s ideas of culture and the aspirational perception of self and identity. With social media platforms increasingly becoming spaces of influence for celebrities, how do they use these platforms to communicate their perceptions of beauty and the feminine body, and what messages do they communicate in this manner? This articles reports on a study that explored the cultural ideology of beauty against the backdrop of a digital culture that draws on celebrity beauty performances on social media. Through non-participatory digital ethnographic observations on social media of four female South African celebrities and conversational interviews with young adults, the study examined how celebrities present their bodies in the performance of beauty on social media and explored the messages that pertain to feminine beauty amongst young women. The findings revealed that celebrity culture perpetuates the ideology that black beauty can be achieved through natural skin colour erasure, extended artificial weaves and a thin body frame.