SBW Syndrome


As long as I can remember, I’ve heard about the “strong black woman” being the pillar of families and communities. These women are respected and loved, typically playing roles of mothers, grandmothers, and aunties. Personally, I’ve always thought being referred to as a strong black woman was one of life’s greatest achievements.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized two things:

  1. There is no concrete description for what makes you a strong black woman, who determines that you are or aren’t one?
  2. As woman, we place pressure on ourselves for people to perceive that we are strong.

Too often we associate being strong with how much pain a woman can endure and what she accomplishes without the help of others. In my personal opinion, I would define a strong woman as one that is persevering, resilient, and secure. A strong woman is one that knows who she is, pushes through tough times, takes responsibility for own her life, asks for help when needed, and protects her own happiness. Crying, having bad days, exercising your right to use the word “no”, being vulnerable, and putting yourself before others does not make you any less of a strong woman.

Story Time (you know I love telling you guys my life! Lol)

One day, I was hanging with a friend and we were discussing our lives. I began explaining to him that things were tough – grad school was really hectic, I was unhappy at work, I was working on my after-school program, I was trying to lose weight, I was working on a business venture with my boyfriend, I just suffered a loss and I was super busy. After I explained, his response was, “but that’s what woman do though. It’s like ingrained in your DNA to have a lot going on. You’ll be fine.

Just like that, I began to feel guilty about feeling upset, so much so that I dismissed my own feelings. I started to feel like I was wrong for being vulnerable and open about how overwhelmed I was. It wasn’t until recently that I began to understand, having a bad day didn’t make me any less of a strong woman.

We must free ourselves from sacrificing our own self-love, happiness, priorities, and responsibilities to be perceived as strong women. We must choose US over others, even though it is a difficult thing to do. We must equally pour into ourselves all of the love and positivity we pour into others. We must accept that there is not a universal definition for a strong black woman – the strength of a woman cannot be measured and looks different within different woman.

So go define what you think it means to be strong and live up to just that!


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