Beauty Industry and Racialization of Beauty in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah”
Keywords:beauty standard, race, beauty industry, novel “Americanah”, body politics
Beauty standards and beauty norms contribute to strict expectations of what physical attractiveness is and should be. Images of white standards function oppressively toward other races and their understandings of beauty. In the context of migratory fiction, the relationship between beauty and race becomes central. The appropriation of beauty norms of the dominant group signals about immigrants’ eagerness to follow the rules and accept the norm of the receiving country. On the other hand, an attempt to follow the beauty industry ideology very often leads to immigrants’ self-hatred and low esteem. They suffer from inferiority complex as they are comparing themselves to a standard that is biologically unattainable for them to achieve. The article deals with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel “Americanah”. The main protagonist, Ifemelu, after arriving from Nigeria to the U.S.A. changes her hair style as she is influenced by the racial stereotypes about White attractiveness. She believes that her chances will be higher is she relaxes her hair. Instead, she suffers from the loss of hair because of bad treatment. Her despair is verbalized in the blog-writing, where Ifemelu criticizes beauty industry which promotes certain standards. After some years in the U.S.A Ifemelu rejects the norms of structural racism and return to her natural hair. This is the symbolic act of reclaiming her identity after long years of suffering from the regime of race. To analyze the oppressive nature of beauty industry in the novel we have used the methods of close reading, hermeneutics, and character’s typology.
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