The difficulty with asserting your beauty identity when you’re mixed race

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-11-19 02:55Z by Steven

The difficulty with asserting your beauty identity when you’re mixed race

Dazed Beauty
2019-11-05

Layla Haidrani
London, United Kingdom

Rachel Rumai
©Rachel Rumai

We explore the confusion of navigating your personal identity when you have multiple heritages with conflicting beauty standards

I’ve grappled with the complex relationship between mixed race identity and beauty for a long time. Both my location and my heritage – I’m half-Lebanese, half-Pakistani – upheld beauty ideals that were at odds with each other. Looking too overdone would court much derision growing up in North London, but this minimalist approach conflicted greatly with Beirut’s – a city I spent most summers a teenager where ‘more is more’ is the unofficial beauty mantra. Once the plastic surgery capital of the Middle East, appearing permanently preened and polished with a face full of make-up isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected – even if you’re simply loitering in a shopping mall.

I’d never seen myself reflected in advertisements in the Middle East, where heavily groomed women subscribe to traditionally narrow ideas of femininity – carefully sculpted arched eyebrows, immaculate nails, hairless body, paired with long, sleek black hair – but that didn’t stop me from trying. In the lead-up to visiting for my holiday, I’d spend hours in beauty salons having head-to-toe treatments including a manicure and pedicure, eyebrow shaping, and a full-body wax. It wasn’t unusual for me to have an entirely separate make-up bag bursting with products. It was trickier when I factored in my Pakistani roots and when I spent time with my Desi London-based friends, I’d deliberately kohl my eyes and straighten my hair so our differences wouldn’t be glaringly obvious.

The fluidity of my beauty regime, which shifted according to the spaces I inhabited and the people I was surrounded by, felt stifling, as if there was only one ‘right’ way to look. This would be further exacerbated by Instagram, where I’d be confronted with dozens of images of what a ‘normal’ Lebanese or Pakistani girl should look like.

The term ‘mixed race’ itself tends to lump people as a monolith, and just as their experiences and heritages can wildly differ, so can their beauty identities. Dr Sarah Gaither, an assistant professor at Duke University who studies racial identity and social interactions, says that mixed race people report higher rates of social exclusion than other racial and ethnic groups. “They’re constantly being questioned about their racial backgrounds and denied their identities and group memberships,” she explains. “These experiences are known to cause increased levels of stress and depression at times and can be associated with more difficulties in forming a true sense of self and a sense of being an ‘imposter’.”…

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Examining Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: An African Journey

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-11-19 00:43Z by Steven

Examining Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: An African Journey

Psychology Today
2019-11-18

Sarah Gaither, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Dr. Jennifer Sims, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Alabama, Huntsville

ComposedPix_Shutterstock
Source: ComposedPix_Shutterstock

“Mixed” reactions highlight mixed-race issues in the US and the UK.

Even before the full documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey” aired on ABC, social media was abuzz from a teaser clip of Duchess Meghan Markle being interviewed. In the video, an off-screen Tom Bradby is heard asking Markle how she is doing. She thanks him for asking, saying that not many people do, and answers that the media attention has been difficult on top of being a newlywed and a new mom. Here, Meghan noted her struggles not just as a mom, but as a newlywed and a new royal. Her multiple identities—both those that were newly obtained and those she has always had such as being multiracial—were highlighted in this documentary. Thus, this documentary reminded viewers around the world how easy it is to be judged and excluded particularly when you represent multiple groups.

Many were moved by her words. On Twitter, messages of support, crying GIFs, and jokes of being ready to fight for her were tweeted under the hashtag #HarryAndMeghan. Others, however, were less sympathetic. Talk show host Wendy Williams said that “nobody feels sorry for” Markle and that the Duchess “knew exactly” what she was doing marrying into the British royal family. Jane Ridley of the New York Post noted that “Something’s off when you’re bemoaning your lot as a VIP;” and author Dominic Green called it entitlement to say one is “existing, not living” when that existence is “on millions of pounds of taxpayers money.”

From a psychology angle, these “mixed” views of Markle (pun intended) correlate with the confusion and varied reactions that mixed-race individuals often face. Past work highlights the constant identity questioning and denial that mixed-race individuals face since they often don’t fit into either of their racial in-groups. In Markle’s case, she not only is mixed-race but also is now bicultural as she balances both U.S. and UK expectations…

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Psychophysiological Stress Responses to Bicultural and Biracial Identity Denial

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-10-26 21:52Z by Steven

Psychophysiological Stress Responses to Bicultural and Biracial Identity Denial

Journal of Social Issues
First published: 2019-08-14
DOI: 10.1111/josi.12347

Analia F. Albuja, Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Sarah E. Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Diana T. Sanchez, Associate Professor of Psychology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Brenda Straka, Ph.D. Student
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Rebecca Cipollina, Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Journal of Social Issues banner

Bicultural and biracial individuals (those who identify either with two cultures or two races) are often denied membership in the groups with which they identify, an experience referred to as identity denial. The present studies used an experimental design to test the effects of identity denial on physiological and self‐reported stress, and naturalistic behavioral responses in a controlled laboratory setting for both bicultural (Study 1; N = 126) and biracial (Study 2; N = 119) individuals. The results suggest that compared to an identity‐irrelevant denial, bicultural participants who were denied their American identity and Minority/White biracial individuals who were denied their White identity reported greater stress and were more likely to verbally reassert their identity. Bicultural participants also demonstrated slower cortisol recovery compared to those in the identity‐irrelevant denial condition. The results are the first to highlight the negative physical health consequences of identity denial using an experimental design for both bicultural and biracial populations, underscoring the necessity to promote belongingness and acceptance.

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Identity Denied: Comparing American or White Identity Denial and Psychological Health Outcomes Among Bicultural and Biracial People

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2018-08-14 18:19Z by Steven

Identity Denied: Comparing American or White Identity Denial and Psychological Health Outcomes Among Bicultural and Biracial People

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
First Published 2018-08-07
DOI: 10.1177/0146167218788553

Analia F. Albuja
Department of Psychology
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Diana T. Sanchez, Associate Professor of Psychology
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Sarah E. Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Because bicultural and biracial people have two identities within one social domain (culture or race), their identification is often challenged by others. Although it is established that identity denial is associated with poor psychological health, the processes through which this occurs are less understood. Across two high-powered studies, we tested identity autonomy, the perceived compatibility of identities, and social belonging as mediators of the relationship between identity denial and well-being among bicultural and biracial individuals. Bicultural and biracial participants who experienced challenges to their American or White identities felt less freedom in choosing an identity and perceived their identities as less compatible, which was ultimately associated with greater reports of depressive symptoms and stress. Study 2 replicated these results and measured social belonging, which also accounted for significant variance in well-being. The results suggest the processes were similar across populations, highlighting important implications for the generalizability to other dual-identity populations.

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She’s Biracial, And It’s Not A Secret: Meet Duke Psychologist Sarah Gaither

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-21 23:49Z by Steven

She’s Biracial, And It’s Not A Secret: Meet Duke Psychologist Sarah Gaither

The State of Things
WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio
2018-02-19

Amanda Magnus, Producer

Frank Stasio, Host


Sarah Gaither is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke, and a leading researcher in the field of biracial identity.
Courtesy of Sarah Gaither

Multiracial people are the fastest growing demographic group in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the nation’s multiracial population will triple by 2060, but not much research has been done on this group. Sarah Gaither is hoping to change that. She’s an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and she is also a biracial woman.

Listen to the interview (00:47:45) here.

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What You’ll Never Understand About Being Biracial

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-02-15 01:37Z by Steven

What You’ll Never Understand About Being Biracial

Marie Claire
2018-02-05

Brianna Moné


Courtesy from left: Samantha Ferguson, Sarah Heikkinen, Kayla Boyd

Black people don’t have freckles.”

Those were the words that reverberated through Samantha Ferguson’s middle school–aged head after telling a boy at school that she was half-black and half-white. Classmates, confused by her appearance, had been hounding her with questions like, “What are you?”

Before middle school, Ferguson didn’t think she was different from other children. But, she says, the students at her predominately-white school, “dressed a certain way, looked a certain way, their hair was straight. My skin is not dark, but it’s a different tone, which made me stand out.”

Like all middle-schoolers Ferguson had crushes and wanted to be popular. “I could never be popular, though, because I didn’t look like everyone else. Boys didn’t have crushes on me because my hair was frizzy and I had freckles.”

It was the first time she realized that people are different colors—and receive different treatment because of that. “I didn’t know if I should tell my classmates I’m white, or if I should tell them that I’m black.” She didn’t know where she fit in. She didn’t know how to identify herself.

“Identity is understanding who we are in the world,” says Kerry Ann Rockquemore, co-author of Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America. “Part of that is how others understand us, and the other part is how we understand ourselves.”

For many biracial people, that understanding can be both elusive and arbitrary. From checking boxes on forms to fulfilling quotas, race is used to define and control so many aspects of everyday life. And biracial people are constantly faced with a choice…

“It really upset me. I’m a human being,” recalls Ferguson, now 24, a third-grade teacher in Glen Burnie, Maryland. “I wanted to ask them, ‘What are you?’” …

…“We have an expectation in society of what a black person should look like, or what a white person should look like,” says Sarah Gaither, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. “And if you don’t look like that, that’s disruptful.”

Gaither, who is biracial, says she’s treated like a “party game:” “‘Guess what race she is. I bet you’ll never guess,’ they say. I don’t match anyone’s expectations.”…

Read the entire article here.

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