Pushing Through Oppression: Struggle to Lead a Healthy Life as a Black Woman at an HBCU

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jeannette Wade



Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019


Research states, those who embody the Strong Black Woman stereotype (SBW) are independent, strong, and self-reliant (West et al. 2016). The SBW script is passed through generations of Black women. (West et al. 2016). A drawback of the SBW stereotype is the mental and physical health implications (West et al. 2016). Research shows that the highest rates of overweight and obesity occur in Black women (Ogden et al 2014). Our question: Is this high rate of obesity the product of the SBW script? The focus of our study was African American Historically Black College women from ages 18-25. To conduct this research, a focus group was held. Participants were asked their opinion on the SBW stereotype and about their physical health. In particular, when asked three things that deter them from leading healthier lives, a participant claimed that “...beauty, mental health, and pushing through oppression...” hindered her the most. This participants reasoning was as follows “I know in society they don’t expect a lot from Black women. Trying to prove them wrong is a goal. Sometimes that goal cannot be met, or sometimes you mess up, and then you end up being the stereotypical black woman instead of the black woman that you want to be, or you saw yourself being.” After assisting in the research study process, I would like to be a part of further research into the emergence of the SBW stereotype and how it became an expectation of women in the black community.

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