Self-Care Isn't Just a Trend — It's a Necessity, Especially for Women of Color

Featured on PeopleCHICA. Author: Frances Sola-Santiago

he Latina Love Project profiles the lives of women — mothers, daughters, sisters — who often sacrifice their self-care in their struggle to balance and care for family, friends, and work. In this series sponsored by Ford, we spotlight their struggles and triumphs and learn how they create time for their themselves.

Self-care has become a phenomenon among millennials who seek to position their time and health above the pressures of everyday life — dating, personal relationships, working, social media and more. A quick search for  #selfcare on Instagram pulls up more than 4 million results that feature guys and girls working out, practicing yoga, soaking in aromatherapy baths and meditating. 

This concept is defined as the practice of providing adequate attention to one’s physical and psychological wellness, according to the American Psychology Association. Whether taking time to exercise daily or allocating a no-work zone inside your home, self-care entails a set of practices that cater to an individual’s own needs. 

“Self-care, to me, is about trying to function in a world that is completely dysfunctional,” says Loba, a California-based queer Andina artist and self-care facilitator. Loba, who eschews the use of pronouns, argues that for women and queers of color self-care is a method of survival. “We’ve been programmed to give away so much of ourselves for free,” says Loba. “And we do not have to do that.”

Historically, women and queers of color have been overworked both in society and at home, Loba says. The pressures and challenges of motherhood, low-wage jobs, and societal marginalization makes minority women around the world much more susceptible to losing track of mental and physical health. This is why many Latinas are reclaiming time in their busy lives to take care of themselves better. 

Loba suggests pinpointing a set of self-loving practices tailored to one’s individual resources and needs, acknowledging that it’s not easily doable for everyone:”Self-care is not the same to everyone because not everyone has the same resources. For some, who have the resources, it’s a privilege.”

For those who can work a self-care routine into their daily or weekly schedules, it’s especially important to create strategies for ensuring that you can stay committed to your self-care program, even under difficult situations like traveling or looming work deadlines.

In Loba’s view, self-nourishment also involves prioritizing community-building over individualism, especially in relation to forging bonds with other women and queers of color. “Sometimes [self-care] is just having your friends feed you some good food,” Loba says. 

Another good way to practice self-love is to reconnect with an object or activity that links you to your heritage, whether it’s cooking authentic Mexican food or listening to your abuelo’s favorite salsa record.

As a final thought, Loba says it’s crucial to remember that self-care is sometimes political. As The Guardian writer Arwa Mahdawi wrote, “In a world that is constantly trying to erase your selfhood and deny your self-worth, choosing to focus on yourself really is a radical act.”

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