“Hashtag Intervention”

My dissertation tells the story of how the Atlanta-based organization Black Girls RUN! has been able to do just that – bringing to a 5K near you the new truth about black women and fitness – Forget what you may have heard, sweating out edges never hurt anyone. 

My approach to studying BGR! combined aspects of health promotion and communication studies. Specifically, I was interested in parceling out the intricacies of the many online communities that have emerged since BGR! launched in 2009, and exploring to what extent those communities have allowed a health movement to emerge and thrive. I’ve said several times that BGR! might be the most effective intervention targeting black women that we’ve seen to date, but it’s hard to make such a claim without the research to back it up. I’ve watched the group’s online presence grow rapidly since 2013 (sometimes at a pace of more than 100 new fans per day), and there are no signs of slowing down.

Black women are in desperate need of new and relevant approaches to solving our obesity epidemic, especially in the South. Ultimately, I hope that my dissertation research will add to the larger body of research on health promotion and communication that targets black women and other at-risk groups. If the end goal is to make healthy behavior “viral,” I think BGR! serves as an excellent model.

Read more about my work on Black Girls RUN!

Harris, F. (2015). Hashtag Intervention: How# blackgirlsrun is Making” healthy” Go Viral (Doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia).

Harris, Felicia & Elli Lester Roushanzamir. (2016). #Blackgirlsrun: Promoting Health and Wellness Outcomes Using Social Media. Fire!!!, 3(1), 160-189.

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