Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Mass Communications

First Advisor

Christina Foust, Ph.D.


American Girl, Beyonce, Girl empowerment, Girl of color power, Girl power, Girl power neoliberalism


Girl power is a complex and multi-dimensional phrase. It is a term that celebrates the positive development of girls' self-esteem, while simultaneously recognizing the shifting social positioning of girlhood in the late twentieth century. It is a call to re-write girls' passivity but simultaneously a discourse that encourages consumerism via entertainment, artifacts, and merchandise. A social movement, a catch phrase, a motto: girl power is a representative caricature of evolving conceptualizations of girlhood. This dissertation is critical of the homogeneity implicit in girl power as its hailing disproportionately centers white, middle and upper class girls. As such, this project examines the myriad of ways that diverse girls of color make alternative forms of girl power, what I call girl of color-power. Using rhetorical and textual analysis this dissertation argues that low-income, girls of color transform neoliberal, postfeminist, and postrace iterations of girl empowerment for the purpose of changing power relationships. Through a critique of domination and freedom through three case studies: The American Girl BeForever doll line (which problematically infuses whiteness through five characters of color, in the name of empowerment); musical icon Beyoncé; and the advocacy of the social justice oriented group, The Radical Monarchs, this project analyzes the exclusivity of girl power regardless of girl of color presence and posits girl of color-power as an inclusive framework that centers the diverse embodiments of girlhood. Through the promotion of sisterhood bore from difference, an embrasure of cross generational alliances, and through the active inclusion of critical pedagogy (based in marginal history), girl of color-power promotes agential practices aimed at cultivating social justice.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Raisa Fernanda Alvarado

File size

142 p.

File format





Rhetoric, Communication