Take one look at instagram and you’ll find plenty of #selfcare images; an entire stockpile of photos featuring mostly white, middle to upper class, fit folks who have plenty of cash for green tea smoothies and plenty of time for daily yoga classes. Self care has become an oppressive, trendy brand that many of us can’t afford and aren’t reflected in.
Self-care has been co-opted and reduced to bath bombs and lavender lattes.
Now don’t get me wrong - I love a relaxing bubble bath and good coffee. But self care is about so much more than photogenic simple pleasures. Self care is an inherent need, and one we often neglect. It requires that we are attentive to ourselves and open to self-love and nurturing. I don’t know about you, but this is not something that comes easy for me. I am often unaware of my body, convinced by the false promise of perfectionism, and content to settle for less than comfort. This being the case, self care for me (and many others) is a radical act.
Self care isn’t cucumbers on my eyelids - it’s my willingness to look inward and address my need to put my own mask on first before I assist others. It’s about allowing myself to take up space (without detracting from others) and self-preservation as opposed to survival. It is about learning to say no when I have enough on my plate, pushing myself to grow and learn, challenging the status-quo, embracing my shadow side, and kissing my shame until it begins to dissipate. It means expressing my emotions, resisting, putting on lotion when my skin is dry, and resting when my body aches. It is about tearing down walls and putting boundaries in place. It is about saving up and scheduling that dentist appointment, and knowing when I’ve had enough to drink. It is about going to my therapy appointments even when I feel nervous and making myself a priority.
Self care is facing yourself in the mirror and refusing to engage in unrequited self-love.
I invite you to consider what self care means for you. And I double-dog dare you not to instagram your next act of self care - because it is for YOU, not the internet. You can begin by checking in with yourself. Scan your body for aches or pains. Take a look at your calendar and block off times to be present with yourself. Write down a list of things you find comforting. Call that friend that demands you be good to yourself. Slow down. Speak up. You need yourself.