Black beauty, white standards: a phenomenological study of black american women's perception of body image at a PWI

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

This qualitative study examined the daily lives and experiences of ten Black American women, looking specifically at perceptions of their body image. The ten women were enrolled undergraduate students at a predominately White institution (PWI) in the southeastern region of the United States. The primary data collection method was in-depth individual interviews and focus groups. Coupled with Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought (2000) and the use of a phenomenological approach, the data were coded and analyzed according to three research questions, which guided this study. Five major themes emerged from this study, shedding light on the perceptions that Black American women have about their bodies when they are enrolled at a PWI. The five themes identified included: (1) experiences prior to college and the current campus culture; (2) Black Capstone Life versus Greek Life; (3) challenges of being Black at a PWI; (4) the concept of unapologetically Black; and, (5) Black girl magic. The ten Black women provided insight about their experiences, including their unique cultural features of beauty and appearance and their dual identity as a Black and female student attending a PWI. This study provided a valued space for Black American women to define and process who they are as Black women at a PWI, indicating the need for such a space and support at other PWIs.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Mental health, Higher education