Can 2023 be the year of radical self-care for black women and be able to give more importance to self-care?
Asiyah Muhsin, a women’s health coach and consultant for Black women, describes rest as a radical kind of self-care in a TikTok video she made in September. According to her, getting enough sleep is essential for you to reach and maintain your health and fitness goals. Her video is one of the countless others demonstrating a “radical” method of self-care that embraces the idea of occupying the space required to be an entire person.
According to this idea, radical self-care is a rejection of hustling culture. It rejects the notion that human worth is inextricably linked to our labour and affirms that women of color are valuable regardless of whether they engage in capitalism as a whole.
The wellness industry’s drive to force consumers into purchasing wellness products like massage memberships and bath salts, thus promoting more capitalist production, was what caused the conventional self-care movement to soar in the early 2010s.
Although they might be incredibly soothing, many people from various working class backgrounds cannot access them. Additionally, one cannot actually unwind in a bubble bath. Black women have requirements related to community, food, water, and relaxation because they are individuals and not personal brands.
Rest is the most important element, but it can also entail taking breaks, establishing time limits, organising protests against oppressive institutions, choosing not to work, and ultimately realizing injustices in situations and fighting against them, either individually or collectively. Radical self-care appears to be free or exclusive to elite activities, but it actually challenges the idea that we are unstoppable as individuals.
These ideas may appear basic or conventional to outsiders. But for Black women in America, who have traditionally been expected to work, serve others, maintain the family unit, and support the community, taking time off, quitting a job, or breaking ties with a loved one who is causing toxicity in your life is a radical move.
In particular, black women are expected to work continuously for their families, their workplaces, and society as a whole because of where we fall in the racial and gender hierarchy. Therefore, radical self-care for Black women entails actively claiming pleasure, relaxation, joy, silliness, and all these other qualities that are not generally connected with how Black women are supposed to be. This means rejecting the idea that we are superwomen who do not need to rest.
Radical self-care means finding yourself again and placing your wellbeing above that of others. Women can’t care for others if they don’t take care of themselves. The difference between radical self-care and traditional self-care is that radical self-care goes a little bit deeper. It does more than just reward and pamper yourself, it actually brings you closer to yourself. Finding your voice in this chaotic world and learning about yourself is actually what it’s all about.
Despite becoming a popular topic on social media in recent years, the radical self-care movement has roots that date back to the 1980s. Caretaking is not self-indulgence; rather, it is an act of political struggle, according to Audre Lorde, who wrote this in her 1988 essay collection “A Burst of Light.” Her definition of self-care is similar to communal care, which is very different from the isolated and individualistic definition of self-care today.
In order to maintain and sustain communities when the structures in which women are embedded fail, community care must be used. They must consider what they can do on a political, social, and interpersonal level to counteract the harm their institutions and governments are already causing to the communities.
In the end, you will be more likely to achieve the independence you deserve if you continue to work on letting go of your guilt over taking care of yourself.