Senior Communication Studies Major Completing Research on Skin Bleaching as Part of the McNair Scholars Program
Public communication studies major Dominique Freeman recently researched the topic of skin bleaching among Nigerian women as a McNair Scholar. The McNair Scholars Program prepares first-generation, low-income, undergraduate students, from groups underrepresented in graduate schools, for doctoral study.
When she started in the program, Freeman knew she wanted to do research involving minorities and help women of color. As she began reviewing sources to develop her literature review, her focus and research title became clear: Skin Bleaching: The New Construction of Beauty amongst Nigerian Women.
“Skin bleaching is common in more than 70 percent of Nigerian women,” Freeman said. “I think women with dark skin are taught not to like their complexion. They think dark skin is not pretty. I wanted to research why this happens and how to help women of color love their skin.”
With Dr. Joelle Cruz, communication studies assistant professor, serving as her mentor, Freeman reviewed and coded more than twenty articles and prepared a qualitative analysis during the eight week McNair Scholars Program. She also presented her research at the annual KSU McNair Summer Research Institute Symposium.
While her research gave her some insight into why Nigerian women might bleach their skin –they’ll marry better, they’ll be the media’s definition of pretty – her research is still on-going.
As part of the McNair Scholars program, she will continue collecting data throughout the academic year and even hopes to travel to Nigeria to interview women. She’ll then present her findings next summer at a McNair Scholars Program conference in Buffalo, NY.
She said the process took a lot of hard work and dedication, but she was so appreciative for the opportunity. It gave her a chance to learn and practice skills outside of the classroom and will be helpful with her future goals of obtaining a Ph.D.
“I never thought I could do research,” she said. “It was so stressful but I am so appreciative. Now I feel like I can conquer the world!”