I am a Black woman. I grew up in Chocolate City back when DC was still called that. Wellness and self-care have always existed and been practiced and over the past few years these terms have become buzz words that are getting more attention in the mainstream. As I began navigating the wellness space over a decade ago, I was reminded frequently of the words of activist Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” There are definitely times where taking care of myself felt like warfare. Once I gave myself permission, self-care became a mission. While we are a company that sells wellness tools, we are not going to pretend that wellness requires you to spend money because wellness is not about capitalism. There is no one way to care for yourself, so whether you treat yourself to something from the site or treat yourself to a walk outside make sure to remember that ultimately, self-care is the inside work. It’s getting to know you and being the best version of yourself. You can do it by yourself, with friends, with a professional, or with the tools we offer.
As we enter Black History Month, I would like to acknowledge the rising call to decolonize wellness. So what exactly does that mean? Too many folks do not participate in self-care because they believe it to be too expensive or not for them. It can be really discouraging to always be the only one who looks like you in the studio, or to never see yourself in the ads, or when you always have to bring your own products because all the products in the studio showers aren’t for your hair or skin. When we look at many health and wellness spaces, we can see the recent change in who is being featured and whose story is being told. One of the reasons that I was drawn to Smudge is because Lara and Luigi were doing the work to be inclusive long before I showed up. Having a diversity of voices is so important because our experiences in this world are not all the same which means that the care we need will not all be the same. I want to learn from all types of people, but sometimes I NEED to learn from people who look and live like me. And I know that I am not alone in this so here is my promise. As content manager for Smudge Wellness, I will create a space for ALL of us. We will feature BIPOC voices ALL year because American History is 365. We will also not demonize our allies but we will work to dismantle white supremacy, especially in our wellness corner of the world.
Charles Roppel, the head of the Mental Health Promotion Branch of the California Department of Mental Health in the 80s, summarized the idea of wellness with the thought that “if you take the ‘I’ out of illness, and add ‘we’, you end up with wellness.” (This quote has been attributed to Malcolm X but I can’t seem to find the actual evidence he said this). Wellness is about community, it’s about reclaiming our practice and understanding that our needs are all different and all important. The Well Collective, a community that works on “Decolonizing and Shifting the Wellness Narrative”, has some great questions that I keep in mind when doing wellness work. “Who is represented in wellness? Who represents wellness? What type of wellness is represented? Who informs what wellness is?” These are some of the questions I will be keeping in mind while creating Smudge Wellness content. I am super excited to help grow this space for everyone and share tools, tricks, tips and more so we can all get well.
I will also do my best in this space to avoid spiritual bypassing, a term coined by John Welwood which is using “spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional ‘unfinished business,’ to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks.” It is basically the idea of doing what feels good while ignoring what is hard. You cannot have light without darkness. To get the feel good, we have to do the work and sometimes the work is uncomfortable, and not fun but it is always necessary.
We also want to hear from you!! What does being Black in Wellness mean to you? What do you want to see from us at Smudge? How can we best serve you?