Attitude or Self Confidence? Self Esteem and The Black Woman

My brother once asked me why I was so sure of myself. And when I tell my younger sister that I have a great story idea she’s always surprised by my self conviction and self belief. I always remind her that if I didn’t believe in something why would I bother discussing it with her or any one? Self doubt is something that I keep in my mind, not something that I feel I often need to share or display, especially being a writer, having conviction in your ideas is paramount to developing them and seeing them come to life. I would not be writing this blog if I didn’t believe in what I was writing. And while this self belief has often landed me in trouble as resulted in some peoples perceptions of me as being arrogant, uppity, even people thinking that I believe I’m above everyone else, this couldn’t be far from the truth. But I’m not the only one. This high level of self esteem has been found to feature strongly in black women world wide.

Earlier this year, Psychologist Today, May 15, 2011, by Satoshi Knazawa published a report or research papers that claimed that black women were unattractive according to his research or were found to be the least attractive race. Rather than be outraged, having studied science for over six years (including psychology, which in my eyes is technically not a science), I was interested in how this conclusion was derived and what scientific methods where used to reach such a definite conclusion on such a subjective matter that could not be measured.

After reading the report, I mostly laughed at what was called scientific research (I’m not sure what university he went to) and was horrified that Psychology Today, with it’s reputation in the field of Psychology would allow themselves to be associated with such poor research. I wont judge the topic, I’m more concerned that people are calling this research and that it’s being published in reputable publications. The only reason I have mentioned this in relation to the self esteem was one of the comments made by the so called researcher (again it’s not a finding as this report is not a credible paper, not because of it’s racist over tones, but because most scientist would dismiss it on the basis of the quality of it’s research). Satoshi claimed that black women rated themselves as ‘more attractive’  than they were, when compared to other races.

I’ve never met a black woman who put herself down or who demonstrated outwardly low levels of self esteem. Like all the other races, we have issues but we are least likely to worry about whether our but looks good in this dress and we are more likely to acknowledge something positive about ourselves than any other race.

Social Psychologists have been raking their brains as to why black women have evolved to have higher self-esteem despite their position on the social perking order in society and the constant jibes at their personalities,(think crazy black woman), and racist agenda’s such as the above articles by so called scientist (Satoshi is also an evolutionary scientist subscribing to Darwin’s theories on evolution on race), that are being published in so called scientific magazines. And who said science doesn’t lie!

Enough negativity, here is another research that examines the self esteem of black women and why we are so strong! And it’s not because of apparently having a ‘higher levels testosterone in our bodies that give us masculine features, thus making us less feminine, and therefore less attractive than other races….blah blah blah


Here are some of the reasons that you may already know outline in ‘A Longitudinal Study of African American Women and the Maintenance of a Healthy Self-Esteem’ by Kelly L Patterson, published in the JOURNAL OF BLACK PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 30 No. 3, August 2004 307-32. This study was conducted on a group of African American Women over a period of 14 years (1979-1992).

  • Black people do not see themselves with the same eyes that white people see them with. Their sense of self comes from those in their own community. This also because most black people in America live and interact in segregated black communities. What you say to another black person as a black person will have more impact on them than anything that a non-black person will have. ‘The strength of their support networks provides a protective function for their self-esteem and buffers the negative effects of societal stressors, such as race discrimination, that might otherwise result in demoralization and low self-esteem’ ((Gibbs & Fuery, 1994; Lykes, 1983; Miller, 1992; Myers, 1975, 1980).
  • Self Esteem is developed through interpersonal relationships, family and friends and the black community play a big role in building the self-esteem of it’s members
  • Black women feel better about their bodies than other races even if they don’t fit the societal ideal of thin
  • Black people have been able to distinguish lack of achievement that is attributed to racism and discrimination in society and don’t blame themselves for failures that they had no complete control over.  For example, applying for a job and not getting it because the person hiring was a racist is not your fault
  • Black pride, or proud to be black is another reason attributed to the higher self-esteem of black women
  • Black girls are conditioned by their mothers to stand up for themselves and immune themselves against the negative racial stereotypes about black women. One of the most remarkable features of Black women’s communities is
  • the deliberate process of building the self-esteem of community members— particularly young Black girls. This process was necessary more than a century ago to give young slave girls dignity in the face of inhumanity (Sterling,1984; Stevenson, 1996), and it endures today as members of African American women’s support networks seek to build their self-worth in a society that devalues them’

Although this study was conducted on African American Women, the findings are common in other black communities across the globe, including Africa.


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