5 Self-Care Tips for Black Women When the World Is Debating Our Worth
I’ve never been so thankful to not have cable in my adult life.
Last night Meghan Markle and her husband sat down with Oprah in what will be one of the most historical interviews of all time on CBS. I paid attention through live tweet threads and Twitter reactions, and I had to stop an hour and a half in.
I’m a dark Black Queer woman. My entire existence is controversial on some level and every move is scrutinized heavier than my non-dark Black queer peers. Learning about Meghan’s less than royal treatment due to the fact that she is a Black woman not only hit close to home — it burned my house to the ground.
Within 24 hours, I’ve seen triggering conversations based in and around colorism that range from racism to suicide. As a mentally ill Black woman, it only took moments for me to start sputtering and spinning out of control into dangerous thoughts I do my best to keep at bay in the back of my mind.
I couldn’t take being exposed to harsh truths that I already knew existed and impact me daily. As a means of self-protection and survival I turned to five self-care tricks I use whenever I’m reminded of just how much the world hates me.
1. I did my best to step away from triggering media.
Years ago I vowed to only engage with works that validated my experience as a Black queer woman. This means no trauma porn. No “OK, this movie is homophobic but brings up police brutality” caveats, or anything that makes me step away feeling conflicted over simply existing.
I control the media I consume. Turning off media that is damaging to me doesn’t make me less committed to social change. I’m not any less Black for refusing to take part in forms of media that harm me.
When social media scrolling is more adjacent to “doom scrolling,” it’s time to log off.
2. I reached out and was honest about what I needed.
I actually reached out to three different people, all of whom I trust and don’t have to defend or explain my humanity. I was honest, at times being vulnerable to the point of tears about how I felt. While what I need is a societal commitment to change along with legislation to back it, in the moment words of affirmation were more immediately accessible.
Using my receiving love languages to guide me, I communicated my needs and they were thankfully met with love, care and support.
3. Is it cliché to say I turned to Beyoncé?
I am a dark girl. I’m one of the shades that once upon a time you could only find in luxury retailers at a steeper price. I’m one of the shades that was normalized when Rihanna dropped her Fenty foundations a couple years ago. I’m the girl who grew up and was told, “You’re pretty for a dark girl,” and “You can’t wear blonde hair or red lips. It never looks good on girls with your complexion.”
“Brown Skin Girl” by Beyonce holds a spiritual sacred power that I can’t effectively communicate. All of those good things that come with being represented — being seen, heard and loved, is wrapped in this song. I see girls of my complexion sexualized all the time, but never romanticized in the ways that Beyonce sings in this hit from her visual album “BLACK IS KING.”
The rest of “BLACK IS KING” was transformational to watch as a member of the african diaspora, but “Brown Skin Girl” made me sob. All night prior I had read tweets about colorism, rooted in a deep fear of being “too dark,” something I once thought myself to be and hated myself for.
Seeing Lupita, Naomi and all the other colors in my shade range portrayed as the beautiful, soft and romanticized women they should be, touched my soul exactly the way it needed to be touched.
4. I took care of my skin.
I’m the first one to criticize “bubble bath self-care” as I call it as it ultimately plays into our capitalist perspectives when it comes to health. A face mask won’t make my depression go away, but rubbing cocoa and shea butter across my arms and legs so I can see how light dances across my skin brings a proud smile to my face unlike any other.
Reclaiming my beauty has been a lifetime in the making, and it’s something I still struggle with at times.
Taking care of my skin and hair is sadly a very radical action due to how ignored dark girls are in almost every conversation (unless negative) and how natural hair has been portrayed for decades.
So, I jumped in the shower and exfoliated. I used an in-shower lotion and bat my dog away as she tried to lick it off my legs. I moisturized my face after doing my skin care. I took my time taking care of the kinks and curls on my head that I’ve been taking care of for seven years. With my hair wrapped and in flat twists, I then applied body oil, perfume and wore my favorite nightgown to sleep.
I worshipped myself and the physical body that I am in because I am keenly aware that the rest of the world will not.
5. I surrounded myself with love.
This morning I woke up knowing that everyone’s thoughts were only going to be more insightful and intense the day after, so I surrounded myself with love and things that make me feel good.
The first album that played through my speakers was Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” a celebration of Black queer life. I made a full breakfast (something I don’t often do) and used my fanciest plates and mugs to eat and drink out of. I called my mother and cuddled my dog until she was sick of me. In a world that actively pursues hating people like me, I committed myself to only being around people and things that love me.
Sometimes I grow tired of intentionally having to protect my heart and soul as a Black woman. We say protect Black women, but do we really? Harry did, but by that point in another world Meghan would have been dead.
We have to love ourselves radically. We deserve love, care, protection and devotion unequivocally from all parties involved in our lives. We deserve to be romanticized and celebrated until we say “stop.” We deserve to be listened to and heard when we say that we’re hurting.
Wrap yourself in love. Romanticize yourself. Don’t let up for anybody.
Photo by Leighann Blackwood on Unsplash