Self-care is becoming the buzz word of our generation. It’s the realisation for most millennials that we need to take time out of our hectic schedules to focus on our mental health and wellbeing, to check in with ourselves, and to lead more happier and fulfilling lives. The blossoming of the multi-trillion dollar wellness industry has given people a lot of hope. Yoga and pilates studios have reached an all-time high and are more accessible than ever before, and apps like Headspace and Calm mean more people are meditating than we thought possible. This could only be a good thing, right? Wrong. As a woman of colour in the wellness space, you’re rarely seen if heard at all. The lack of diversity in the wellness industry can be seen globally from advertising campaigns, to social media, right down to the professionals leading your classes. It’s a sad but simple fact, you’re just not seen as a woman of colour in the wellness space. Why is it that the wellness industry had scaled so largely without supporting the multicultural market, and what are WOC doing to integrate themselves into a space which hasn’t made an effort to include them?
The lack of representation in the wellness industry is a worldwide issue. Women of colour have had self-care dictated to them from perspectives that are nothing like their own. Self-care for any WOC has far more context behind it than meets the eye; its tied into race, culture, politics and medical issues. We’re far behind in creating true diversity in wellness – but WOC are taking a stand and finding their voice in a world which doesn’t typically cater to their demographic. Women of colour are creating their own wellness practices and spaces kicking down doors to a world that wasn’t built for them, building their own communities and raising awareness whilst doing so. Seeing is believing, we need to demystify wellness by making it accessible to people of all colours from all walks of life. Many people of colour don’t have spaces where they feel comfortable exploring meditation, mindfulness, yoga and more. Rather than waiting for someone to come along and do it for them, POC are creating the spaces they seek looking to those who can relate to the experience of being in a body of colour. There’s a real sense of community and sisterhood, we are living by example being the change that we want to see.
We continue to maintain the idea that self-care is the territory of middle-class white women, its about time we all became accountable (non POC’s included) as everyone deserves the opportunity the see themselves represented in the wellness space. Across many industries, women of colour are neglected and undervalued. When we create a space where everyone feels included, it becomes safer for all. As it stands currently WOC are invisible in wellness, and we don’t feel welcome. You search for a sense of solidarity in wellness spaces but rarely see anyone looking back who you can relate too. There are limited opportunities for women of colour across fitness and health, and to ensure they don’t feel like a commodity in the self-care space we need to change the stereotype. Firstly, we need to break down biases that prevent people of colour getting into wellness – and once they’re there we need to make them feel welcome. Secondly, we need more funding for businesses in wellness that represent a broader range of backgrounds and ethnicities. We can change the stereotype, but to do so we need more products/brands founded by people of colour with them in mind. We can reclaim wellness as an inviting space for all, and challenge the narrative that its synonymous with being white. Just look too Alex Elle’s Instagram for daily positive affirmations, and her ‘Hey,Girl’ podcast for insightful interviews with women about wellness, self-care, and many other insightful topics – I love her podcast and highly recommend. For some recommended reading about holistic wellness and inner beauty for WOC check out Black Girl In Om’s website and their Instagram; Lalah Delia & Tatianna Tarot’s feeds are also worth a serious scroll.
There’s an abundance of information about how to include self-care in our daily lives, and how to become an all-round healthier person. Unfortunately, this information (for the most part) doesn’t filter down to those who need it most. Women of colour in the wellness industry are equally as good as their white counterparts but aren’t recognised, often judged on the colour of their skin and not their qualifications or lived experiences. We need to make inclusivity part of wellness, bringing more diverse voices into the spotlight transforming our wellness experience. There are so many incredible women of colour in wellness staking their claim, and fighting for their right to be heard just by doing the work that they do. As women of colour we have to remember who we are and why we’re here – women of colour in wellness and the self-care space are needed.
Written by J’Nae Phillips