The concept of self-care when you’re a woman of colour is almost a myth. As women we are taught to take on emotional labour for others, and as people of colour every day is a fight for survival. This makes the act of self care a political move, a protest.
Self-care and self love are the roots of activism. However, they are always forgotten about. I myself am no expert on how to love and care for myself, and I constantly receive comments from friends and family that suggest I don’t take any care of myself, specially in times where I am making art and involved with activism.
Self-care can come across as selfishness and sometimes and not a useful way of spending your time. However I am now realising that this is the ideology forced upon people like me, as the result of heteropatriarchy and white supremacy.
If you’re a person of colour, you know that you constantly need to be working towards being better, or in other words, achieving success which most of the time equals whiteness. Which implies we’re at a never ending race to win a medal which will never be given to us. There’s no time for self care if you need to be constantly running.
Looking at how most mothers spend most of their time caring for others and not themselves, implies that to be a woman is to have no sense of self whilst dedicating your time completely to those around you. If a woman decides to for example, to choose her career over having children, (which is the oldest tale in the book and still a decision many women have to make) she is called selfish. The implications that putting one’s self first when you are not allowed to do so in a society that doesn’t cater to you, needs to be looked at as an act of protest not selfishness.
As I mentioned before, I myself have no idea how to give myself self-care. However I know that if I don’t do it no one else will. But starting to look at it from the perspective of self-care as resistance, makes me feel more determined to start caring for myself. It makes me feel ready to fight for my health, which if you’re a lefty queer artist like me, it might strangely put you at ease.
What I find fascinating about self care is that it can be personalised specifically for you. You might be already doing your self-care but not being fully aware. For me personally self-care starts from online shopping for feminist accessories, to taking myself out to a gallery, or not engaging in online or IRL conversations that are toxic for me. As I mentioned I’m not any good at self care yet, or know enough about it. But starting to see it as more of an act of resistance, makes me feel more motivated to take on caring for myself.
In a way self-care can make you a feminist killjoy!
Words by Katy Jalili.