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Abstract

In this special issue of Taboo, the authors use Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade, to introduce the concept of the Bad Bitch Barbie, a term used to identify a woman who embraces her body while simultaneously using it as a commodity. Representing a Black body ideal in Lemonade, Beyoncé uses images of Black women’s bodies to express empowerment, boldness, and resilience as Black women struggle to live in a racist and sexist society. There has been recent interest in the ways Black women have been portrayed in current media and popular culture, and many individuals have taken the opportunity to honor Black women’s beauty, power, and resilience in the era of #BlackGirlMagic by paying homage to women who use music, sound, and the arts to tell their stories (Wilson, 2016; also see Jessica Care Moore’s website, “Black Women Rock” [http://www.blackwomenrock.com]). In this article, our aim is two-fold: first, we offer a historical review of the ways Black women and their bodies have been portrayed in music as well as in the political, cultural, and social spaces associated with Black women’s worldviews. Second, we review songs from Lemonade to describe the Bad Bitch Barbie, who welcomes glamorization and embraces the profitability associated with the racialization, sexualization, and subjugation of Black women’s bodies. This information is vital in discussions about how young African American girls emulate the likes of Beyoncé, and represent themselves in a mainstream culture whose beliefs are informed by socio-historical experiences concerning sexual imagery. The Bad Bitch Barbie figure recognizes—and, to some extent, accepts—her objectification; she negotiates her image and helps to direct the ways in which she is represented.

DOI

10.31390/taboo.16.2.07

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