Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Ijeoma Opara

Second Advisor

Trace Kershaw


Background: For Black adolescent girls, hair is a strong staple of gender and ethnic identity, influencing intrapersonal and interpersonal interactions. Gendered racism and Eurocentric beauty standards pathologize Black girls and their hair, leading them to experience high rates of hair harassment and discrimination. These experiences negatively impact the self-esteem of Black girls, which has important implications for a host of health behaviors. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between self-esteem and hair among Black girls and integrate findings into a culturally relevant digital toolkit to promote and develop hair-esteem and self-esteem among Black girls.Methods: This study is a secondary analysis of a mixed-methods study titled The Dreamer Girls’ Project. Inclusion criteria included: (1) Self-identifies as Black, (2) Adolescent girl aged 13-18 years old, (3) Must reside within the United States of America. Researchers conducted 12 focus groups (n=62) with 4-8 participants included per group. The youth advisory board (YAB) from the primary study was invited to reconvene for the purposes of this study, which five participants accepted. Two other girls with demonstrated leadership potential and/or involvement with the Substances and Sexual Health Lab were also invited to join, for a total of seven YAB members. The YAB convened twice in March 2023 to co- develop the toolkit. Results: Findings from the focus groups, YAB meetings, and literature were used to develop the “Hair- Esteem Toolkit for Black Girls”. The toolkit focused on hair empowerment and integrated supplementary self-esteem development activities and resources. The toolkit is intended to promote self-esteem among Black girls aged 13-18 centering hair as an empowerment tool. Conclusion: The developed toolkit demonstrates the value of centering Black girls in research using theoretical frameworks that leverage their creative potential and leadership abilities while fostering a co- learning space. Findings may be expanded on using YPAR to contribute to current advocacy efforts on hair discrimination.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access

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