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    Sociology Project on Cultural Appropriation

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    The first scholarly journal that I found and examined is called “Is Cultural Appropriation Braided into Fashion Coverage? An Examination of American Magazines”, which is written by author Laney Alspaugh. This scholarly journal examines the difference in how three popular American fashion magazines called Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Essence, discuss the topic of cornrows. The purpose of this experiment is to see how many times each magazine mentions cornrows, if they apply the topic of cultural appropriation to cornrows, and if their method has shifted over the years from 2013-2018 in the months of March, May, August, and November.

    The method used, was by utilizing the Framing Theory which looked for any shifts in material or publication or increased attention by the public due to more trends (Alspaugh, 2019). This method directed on Vogue consisted of looking at Vogue’s popularity in giving people a voice, as well as the dipping of Vogue’s toes in politics which was why Vogue took measures in relevance to presidency and endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 for president. Shifting attention over to Cosmopolitan, the theory focused on Cosmopolitan’s confidence challenging societal norms on their scandalous fashion and their attention in politics by promoting women’s rights. Keep in mind, as previously stated all three of these magazines were also examined over how many articles about cornrows they produced, and exactly how many of them were a main topic for cornrows or just a reference to cornrows. After exhausting this method for each magazine, it was found that Cosmopolitan mentioned cornrows seven times, Vogue mentioned cornrows forty-eight times, and Essence mentioned cornrows twenty-eight times.

    All magazine mentions put together makes for eighty-one mentions of cornrows in the magazines from 2013-2018 in the limited months previously stated. Overall, the shifts made for all three magazines were found. Vogue was the magazine that shifted the least and directed its attention more towards the gratuity of cornrows as well as the significance they had on celebrities. Whereas, Cosmopolitan shifted its writers for cornrows to women of color. Which essentially brought them more attention and more qualitative material due to their authors of color. Essence continues to highlight the problems of cultural appropriation and expose those who exhaust inappropriate cultural appropriation. In conclusion, the top magazines that stood out in relation to cornrows as well as cultural appropriation was Cosmopolitan and Essence. Cosmopolitan, remained the same in the number of articles covering cultural appropriation, but ultimately changed in the aspect of using authors of color to write about cornrows in relevance to cultural appropriation. Essence, however, has the largest amount of articles published about cornrows and cultural appropriation compared to the other magazines.

    Lastly, it was said that Essence’s efforts on driving the topic and discussion of cornrows will eventually pay off as well as be put in a healthy place for society’s attention to latch onto. One thing I feel like the researcher for this scholarly journal could’ve done better was, expanding the amount of time it took to analyze these magazines. Meaning, instead of only examining the months of March, May, August, and November… Alspaugh should instead use the course of a whole year (twelve months) to compare the same study she did on these three magazines.

    Two things that caught my interest in this scholarly journal was based off of the history of colored women. Alspaugh explained how shaving a woman’s head completely, meant stripping her of her identity in her culture. Which is why it was such an agonizing symbol in history for colored women to go through, when their slave owner would have them shave their heads. I also wasn’t aware that colored women can potentially miss opportunities on job positions in America today, if they choose to show up to their job/job interview with their natural hair. Both of these facts are very saddening, but I’m glad I was able to have the opportunity to read this academic journal. I feel like I only learned a piece of this culture and I am eager to learn more, to better understand it.

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