Over the last few years we have seen a rise in conversations about self-care. And let’s be real, these conversations are so necessary. In TBP, care-for-self is a central value and we create space for regular check-ins around our individual wellness. But we also realized a long time ago that self-care wasn’t enough— we needed to put in practice strategies for collective care. But what does it mean to pursue wellness in and as a collective?
There have been a few different strategies we have employed over the years to center wellness as part of our collective work as image-activists, such as:
- Dedicating group conversations to reflecting on the ways gender, race and other intersecting identities shape our lives and the tensions that arise from these intersections.
- Creating spaces for us to experience physical and emotional wellness as a collective. This has included coming together to visit exhibits in a local museum, gathering together over good home-cooked food (shout out to Pamela!), always having feel good music playing at our meetings.
- Mobilizing Sisterhood As Activism to care for, cover, defend and hold space for one another.
- More recently, reflecting on the emotional labor involved in our image-activist work, which validates the emotional and mental demand of this work while also affirming the relational and personal benefits that come out of it.
Ultimately, we have realized that a collective-care strategy is about creating and holding space for ourselves and our sisters to be real about our mental and emotional state of being, while also instituting accountability in our sisterhood for engaging in relational and individual care work.
While groups spaces and practices are key to our collective-care, relationships are at the core of this type of care work. It’s those “hey girl, hey” check-ins we do within our group that push past the surface “I’m ok” answers to get to vulnerable truths. It’s in these smaller conversations where we ask, “Did you go outside today?” Or “How are you taking care of yourself?” These conversations can range from easy to difficult, particularly when we see or experience the evidence of self-harm, self-sabotage, or selfishness (disguised as self-care) in our sisters.
Davia Roberts from Redefine Enough (a community of women devoted to wellness and wholeness), talks about the importance of checking-in with our sisters in an episode from their podcast “Affirm.” She offers tips for having these tough conversations, especially when there are red flags of mental health issues. As we each continue to practice care-for-self, consider, what does it mean to care for my sister? How can I make collective care a part of my care strategies this year? Find the episode, “My Sister’s Keeper” here: https://www.redefineenough.com/blog/ep-13-my-sisters-keeper
written by Erin Stephens for TBP