Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Christopher Campbell

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Fei Xue

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Lindsey Maxwell


This dissertation explores the discourse between natural hair YouTube vloggers and audiences’ interactions with two popular YouTube channels, Jasmine Brown and The Chic Natural. This study uses hooks’ (2003) oppositional gaze as a theoretical framework that centers on media representation of Black women and the inability to produce images that mirrors Black women’s spectatorship (hooks, 2003). This study investigates how hegemonic and averisve racist ideologies (often represented in Western beauty standards) are encoded and decoded in Black women’s mediated spaces. This cultural and critical semiotic analysis explores two research questions: how hegemonic structures exist during the interactions between influencers and audiences and how meanings are derived in content using Stuart Hall’s (1980) examination of preferred, negotiated, and oppositional meanings. The readings in this study found that YouTube vloggers’ videos showed viewers how to manipulate natural hair into straight hair, to use natural hair products, and to style hair in convenient ways. The study found that hegemonic ideologies of colorism and averisve racism were present in the video content that was often designed to sell products used language that reinforces Western beauty standards with a dominant focus on the aesthetic of hairstyles. This study adds to the body of critical and cultural research about race and media. It heightens the awareness of social constructs of Western beauty in a society that thrives through the media and capitalism and provides research that focuses on Black women’s experiences in media representation.

Available for download on Monday, July 01, 2024