From Brandy to Beyoncé: Celebrity and the Black Haircare Industry Since 1992
To detangle the complicated relationship between celebrity and the black haircare industry, this chapter begins by first briefly analyzing the business relationships that have
been forged between celebrities and haircare manufacturers before finally exploring how these relationships are reinforced and negotiated through black hair magazines. Magazines act as a key site to explore the connections between business and consumer. As media scholar David Abrahamson argues:
As such, I examine the verbal and visual rhetoric published in these magazines and online to analyze the resulting effects on consumers, as well as on the media and production of the beauty industry. I also explore the overt and covert connections between celebrities and the magazines that promote them-and the haircare companies they in turn both promote-in light of branding and image creation. Celebrities (and their management teams) craft varying messages built on their images, which are projected in one way through their oft-changing hairstyles. In drawing out these connections, I consider the intersections between commercial relations and representational politics. I maintain that cultural politics and popular culture cannot be fully explained without understanding the effect of market forces and the commodification of hairstyles. To be fully rounded, the story of the contemporary black beauty culture industry must include the powerful socially driven forces of beauty, identity, and personal and group empowerment on the market. I argue that the corporatization of the black haircare industry, facilitated by the collaboration between businesses, celebrities, and the media, has led to the mainstreamization of black haircare, but that key areas of resistance (and rejection of this mainstreamization) are beginning to be found online.