Historically, women of color with little knowledge can blindly imitate the images of themselves as portrayed in mass media, which can be harmful to their self-esteem, contradictions of self-identification, and daily interactions with majority people. Media literacy is important in understanding how images of minority women are distorted to fit the dominant group's ideals and cultural relevance, which affect the identity of minority women. The researcher through the use of BALANA and content analysis examined some attributes of how women of color (WOC) are portrayed on the cover of eight selected magazines, for example, 1) Good Housekeeping, 2) Cosmopolitan, 3) Glamor, 4) Vogue, 5) Redbook, 6) Seventeen, 7) Teen Vogue and 8) Maxim. The acronym of BALANA stands for Black/African, Latino, Asian, Native Americans. The analytical framework BALANA and content analysis examined the following attributes or characteristics derived from the literature review: hypersexualization, objectification, likeness to whiteness and intensified exoticism. The theoretical perspectives that guided the study are social identity theory, social cognitive theory, critical race theory and objectification theory.

The findings revealed that of the 278 magazine covers reviewed, 52 covers displayed women of color. 90% percent on the magazine covers with WOC had hypersexual images, contextual cues, and content. The percentage on magazine covers with women of color with ethnic traits being masked by whiteness was also 90%. Twelve, magazine covers of the 52, displayed images of WOC portraying objectification attributes. About 42 percent of magazine covers with WOC portrayed intensified exoticism attribute. The percentage of Black/African Women on the cover of magazines was 4.7%, the percentage of Latinas on the cover of magazines was 11.9% and the percentage of Asian Women on the cover of magazines was 2.2% and there were no Native American women presented on the cover of any magazines reviewed.

This is an exploratory study and for the first time applied a socially constructed framework called BALANA to study WOC, therefore, a limitation. Another limitation is the difficulty to locate physical copies of magazines or other resources at local libraries in Minnesota Areas' Minneapolis and Winona. The socially constructed BALANA as an analytical framework or tool is to help women better understand and improve their media literacy thereby empowering them.


Kebba Darboe

Committee Member

Hanh-Huy Phan

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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