Self-Care as a Resistance
What Is It and What Does It Look Like?

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When one thinks of self-care, most every woman on the planet envisions a time for relaxation. To some it looks like daily meditation or yoga or a spa day, to others a vacation far from home. Whatever you envision as self-care, this article is intended to expand that knowledge and explore self-care as a resistance.

As always, I like to begin with making sure we all know what self-care as a resistance is. It refers to the act of engaging in self-care practices to challenge and resist oppressive systems and societal norms. It recognizes that self-care is not just about personal well-being but also about reclaiming power and independence in the face of marginalization and discrimination.

Self-care is a powerful tool for healing and empowerment. Self-care encompasses a range of practices that nurture one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. For women of color, self-care serves as an intentional and deliberate act of self-preservation, challenging systemic injustices and promoting resilience.

Historically, women of color have faced intersecting forms of discrimination rooted in racism, sexism and other oppressive systems. These experiences have led to increased stress, anxiety and emotional burden. Self-care provides an essential avenue for addressing and mitigating these challenges. While self-care may still look like a weekend at a luxurious bath house, for many women of color we not only need a minute away from chores and work but also from the societal norms that tell us how to dress, speak and act. By consciously setting aside time for self-care, we have the ability to reaffirm our worth and reclaim our identities in a safe space, where we can resist societal narratives that belittle and mock us.

Self-care for women of color takes many forms and happens in many spaces. It allows women of color to function within a society whose standards were not set with us in mind. It may look like a daily workout, meditation or prayer. It can be therapy or journaling. It can be preparing a meal that your grandmother used to make, getting your hair done or talking to your sister from another mister back home. Engaging in these activities cultivates a sense of self-love and self-compassion.

Sadly, women of color everywhere have had to live a double life for many generations. We are taught from an early age that we need to fit into European standards. Over time the burden of maintaining your culture in your home and adjusting your behavior for the world can become overwhelming. Currently, we are seeing a movement of acceptance, but how long will that last? Misappropriation of women of color is a real thing. These dynamics are why self-care is crucial for women of color.

However, it is also crucial to acknowledge that self-care alone cannot dismantle systemic oppression. True liberation requires true advocacy, action and structural change. Women of color will continue to fight for social, economic and political justice while engaging in self-care practices. By taking care of ourselves, we strengthen our capacity to challenge oppressive systems and create spaces that celebrate our identities and experiences.

In conclusion, to the women of color: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. 

When you are overwhelmed, speak up. When you feel mistreated, speak up. When your employer makes an inappropriate remark, speak up. When you feel ostracized, speak up. If you need therapy, look for a therapist and remember therapy is not one-size-fits-all. When you take care of yourself, only then can you take care of others.


About Author

Stephanie is a Rochester resident for over 20 years who hopes to bring a new perspective in each piece she writes that will be a spark that ignites the flame of change.

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