Representing the empowered Black woman : a semiotic analysis of Truelove and Destiny magazine front covers in 2016.
Mofokeng, Tselane Lehlohonolo.
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This research discovers and identifies how South African women’s magazines, namely Truelove and Destiny magazines, communicate and represent the myth of black women’s empowerment on their magazine front covers. Women’s magazines have been studied predominantly by second and third wave feminists (Friedan 1963, McRobbie 1978, Ferguson 1983, McCracken 1993) who viewed women’s magazines as important markers of women’s role in society, especially in relationship to their representation of femininity and feminism. While there have been some studies on women’s magazines in the context of South Africa (Laden 2001, Iqani 2012, Gqola 2016, Ferreira 2011, Donnelly 2000), there is still a comparative lack of current research that focuses on black women’s empowerment through women’s magazines. The theoretical framework for this research is derived from black feminist thought and semiotics. Semiotics is defined as the “study of signs” (Chandler, 2002:1) in analysing and interpreting the meaning of texts. Black feminist thought is grounded upon the notion that black women’s experiences in society are unique and different from white women’s experiences and should therefore be acknowledged (hooks 1984, Collins 2000). This is a qualitative research project that makes use of a textual analysis since magazines are recognised as texts which can be interpreted for meaning. The magazine front covers for this research are analysed though a semiotic analysis which explores and discovers the arrangement and use of content as well as what it conveys and communicates (Ballaster, 1991:29). This methodology is suitable for this research because a magazine front cover functions as both “windows to the future self” (McCracken, 1993: 13) and as a “visual carnival” (Iqani, 2012:440) as it includes an arrangement of images and texts which work together to construct and represent a dominant ideology or myth. The sample consists of twelve magazine front covers of Truelove and Destiny, six covers of each of magazine from July to December 2016. Through the analysis of the selected magazine front covers, I reveal that black women’s empowerment is represented as being liberated, assertive and independendent. Both magazines represent the position of black women in society, in terms of their careers, love lives, finances and aspirations.