Three Reasons Self-Care is an Urgent Necessity for Women of Color
Every day we hear stories of Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop’s occasional missteps. Regardless if you’re a fan or not, the media coverage of Goop with its tongue-in-cheek tone trivializes the entirety wellness industry. Boiling down the message of wellness companies to pseudo-science and 1000 dollar detoxes distracts those who could benefit the most from the true power of self-care: women of color.
Women of color need access more urgently to wellness than their white counterparts. Why?
For our Mental Health
Historical exclusion from resources has compromised mental health for people of color
Socioeconomic status affect mental health. Historical adversity—which includes systematic racism and red-lining left over from slavery and sharecropping, as well as race-based exclusion from social, economic, health, and educational resources have led to the disparities experienced by people of color presently.
Across the US, African-Americans remain disproportionately poor; twice the rate of their caucasian counterparts. According to the US HHS Office of Minority Health, Adult African Americans are more likely to experience feelings of “sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness” and are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites.
For our Reproductive Health
Women of color are more likely to succumb to pregnancy related diseases and be discriminated against within the medical system
The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for Black women is 3 to 4 times higher than White women. Let that sink in.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged in May 2019 that “racial bias within the health care system is contributing to the disproportionate number of pregnancy-related deaths among minority women.” Health professionals are not recognizing or acknowledging health risks for women of color according to the former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Other contributing factors to high maternity deaths among African Americans were disorders related to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes which are not typically associated with young, pregnant women.
For our Physical Health
Women of color are more likely to develop diabetes and experience stroke
Black adults are nearly twice as likely as white adults to develop type 2 diabetes. This racial disparity has been rising for the last 30 years. Biological risk factors were the strongest implicated in the CARDIA study conducted in 2017, which included body mass index, waist measurements, blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, lipids, and lung function. Psychosocial, socioeconomic, and behavioral factors were also indicated but to a lesser degree.
African American women are more likely to experience a stroke than any other group of women in the US. Black women are more likely to have more severe strokes and strokes at a younger age and twice as likely to have a stroke as their white counterparts. Here’s some reasons why:
- High blood pressure: This typically begins at a younger age and is more severe than in white women
- High levels of sodium: Some studies have shown that Black women may be more sensitive to the effects of sodium which leads to high blood pressure. It is suggested that WOC reduce their intake to 1500mg/day
- Sickle Cell Anemia: A common genetic disorder throughout the African American population and can lead to stroke
- Higher rates of diabetes and obesity than white women
How Do Wellness Brands Help?
Wellness brands create safe spaces
Many wellness brands for WOC both highlight and create spaces for their community. This includes anything from retreats or summits, to yoga classes and community outreaches. Black women need these spaces to feel safe, be themselves, and completely release to get the full benefits of health and wellness practices. In addition to events, many wellness brands offer curated mental spaces like podcasts for WOC that help you access the community in the comfort of your own home. Our mindfulness series is designed to help you do just that.
Wellness brands provide more visual representation of WOC
Wellness brands for WOC help by visually representing them in an industry that is traditionally marketed to others. It’s important to feel not only that you are seen, but celebrated in spaces you may not be familiar with. Recognizing yourself in a traditionally white space breaks mental barriers. It helps you be able to say “this is for me” and that ownership and right to wellness is so integral to taking the first step towards healing.
Wellness brands help support and encourage you to take risks
It’s hard being the first to do anything. Maybe you’re eyeing that hot yoga or ecstatic dance class but you feel inhibited by your other-ness. Wellness brands for WOC are normalizing the sight of black women in predominately white spaces. By visualizing yourself in these spaces, you can now take the next step by entering them in real life. By consciously choosing to prioritize your wellness, you can feel more empowered to be the first person of color in your class. It becomes less and less scary and other POC will soon follow your lead.