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The ABCs of Overcoming the "Strong Black Woman" Stereotype

Updated: Mar 3

The "Strong Black Woman" stereotype has a long history, dating back to our ancestors who demonstrated incredible courage in the face of unimaginable trauma. However, at some point, this strength became distorted to suggest that we must always keep it together despite past or ongoing stressors that can result in complex trauma responses. We have resilience in our DNA, so if you are anything like me, you are living each day handling whatever life throws at you like a boss. In this blog post, we will explore the challenges that black women face and strategies to overcome these challenges so that we can assert our right to live authentically and without apology.

black strong woman pose

As a black woman and a mental health professional, I often feel the weight of societal expectations and pressures. The burden of these expectations, which are passed down from generation to generation, can feel overwhelming. We believe that to be strong, we must always operate like a battery, never show any sign of weakness, and derive our worth from only our achievements. There is no time for rest or vulnerability. However, this is all entirely untrue. "Being strong" is often misunderstood

as meaning we need to hold it all together, shouldn't show emotion, or must handle everything alone and put others before ourselves.

Strength is not a one-size-fits-all concept – it's as diverse as we are. For some, it's about bouncing back after life throws curveballs our way and turning setbacks into learning opportunities. For others, strength can be finding the courage to chase dreams through doubts and fears. Strength is about finding what works for you and embracing every part of it.

It's okay to not be okay sometimes.

To let ourselves feel whatever we're feeling – whether it's anger, sadness, or exhaustion. Our worth isn't tied to how much we can handle or how many boxes we can check on the to-do list. We are worthy simply because we exist – flaws, mistakes, and all. Let's challenge that "strong Black woman" archetype together with some ABCs and embrace our right to take up space in this world exactly as we naturally are.

Time to Learn Your ABCs

Attend to Your Body:

Take the time to acknowledge and understand your body's reactions to anxiety and stress. Our bodies are like record keepers, storing every experience we encounter – from moments of hurt and pain to laughter and love. Just like a check engine light alerts us to potential issues in our cars, our bodies provide indicators that we may need to explore further. Pay attention to these signals, and honor your body's need for rest, self-care, and healing.

Balance Tradition with Modernity:

It is important to find a balance between respecting our legacy and embracing personal growth and modernity. While traditions are a vital component of our identity, it's crucial to create space for personal development and adaptation. This can include surrounding yourself with positive people who appreciate and understand your background and encourage your journey of self-discovery and growth. Establishing healthy boundaries can rid you of unnecessary burdens and help preserve your legacy while navigating the complexities of modern life.

Cultivate Self-Love and Positive Self-Talk:

Create an atmosphere of love and acceptance for yourself by practicing positive self-talk and affirmation. Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer to a valued friend. Challenge negative self-perceptions and replace them with affirmations that uplift and empower you. Remember, self-love is not selfish – it's a necessary foundation for living authentically and embracing your truth.

Being true to ourselves is the most powerful thing we can do. Let’s free ourselves from the pressure, own our truth, and live life on our terms – unapologetically, authentically, and beautifully. If there are unchecked items on your to-do list, it is okay to take a break and not worry about what comes next. It's understandable if taking time to just “be” is initially difficult and unrealistic but you deserve it. It’s okay to remind yourself as much as you need to!

Don't forget to download your free set of printable affirmation cards that I created to uplift and empower you on your journey of self-discovery and self-love.

Printable Affirmation Cards
Download PDF • 2.41MB

I have compiled a list of resources that I love as reminders of our greatness and ability to succeed without being a superhero:

Have you heard of Therapy for Black Girls? It's a podcast and therapist directory that focuses on supporting the mental health needs of Black women. This platform provides a safe space for you to explore a wide range of topics, from self-care to relationships, and connect with culturally competent therapists like me who understand our unique experiences. It's a great resource for anyone looking to prioritize their mental health and well-being.

I want to share with you about an amazing artist named Ashley, who goes by the name PinkLomein. Her artwork reflects everyday people and focuses on empowerment and positive affirmations. I discovered her work when I stumbled upon a canvas in either TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Since then, I've been almost obsessed with finding her latest piece of inspiration and affirmation:)

As I have been on my healing journey, I've come to appreciate the music of an artist named Toni Jones. I particularly enjoy her songs titled " Worth Ethic" and "Take Up Space Sis". Her music is rhythmic, uplifting yet relaxing, and empowering. I'm confident you'll find a perfect song to inspire you during dance, meditation, or anything in between.

*Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the resources provided in this blog post. These recommendations are based solely on my personal experience and research, and I do not receive any compensation or benefits from promoting these resources. It's important for me to share valuable resources that may support your journey, but I encourage you to conduct your own research and consider what aligns best with your individual needs and preferences.

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