By the very nature of their existence, Black women have continued to be held to unfeasibly high standards.
Over the years, the phrase “Black Girl Magic” popularized a “supernatural” quality to be able to endure daily struggles and still overcome — as it relates to Black girls and women. But, similar to the Black Superwoman role, this mythical status can directly affect their mental health and well-being.
For Elon University student Eukela Little, the connection between self-compassion and self-care is instrumental in rethinking what it means to be a strong Black woman. As a 2022 Lumen Scholar, Little was awarded $20,000 to support her research project, “Strong, Black and Selfish: Reframing the Strong Black Woman Persona to include Self-Care through a Mobile Health Intervention.”
Through her research, the psychology major is dedicated to debunking the seemingly positive myths and inviting Black women to prioritize themselves. She created an eight-week intervention “encouraging and reframing self-care, self-compassion, and self-contemplative practices—the three pillars of the schema for collegiate Black emerging adult women,” according to TODAY at Elon. Each week, the intervention participants were presented with a different topic to focus on, such as mindful meditation, understanding self-care, and others.
“It starts with an awareness that you were overwhelmed and that you do see yourself as a strong Black woman,” Buffie Longmire-Avital, associate professor of psychology and Little’s mentor for her Lumen Prize research, told the university news. “But what does that mean, and how can you still be a strong Black woman that is selfish, centers self-care, and recognizes that you are just human?”
As part of her research, the rising junior held interviews with several experts in the mental health field and former Black woman students of Longmire-Avital.
“Eukela is a wonderful example of when you step back and let a student’s creativity and innovation lead you,” she added. “I’m thankful for her vision and her steadfast conviction to want to be the change, not just document what needs to happen.”
Additionally, Little shares the journey of her project on her Instagram page, Project S.E.L.F. (Self-empowering and Loving Formation).
“We always talk about ‘Black girl magic.’ We’re all trying to be magical Black girls. But it was very interesting to see that conception of the magical Black girl was at a goddess level. That was concerning for me because we are human. We have to always be mindful of where the trends are going and how those trends may initially appear to be one thing … but if not careful, they can also be sources of great pressure,” Longmire-Avital said. “Eukela’s research illuminates that.”