As the notions of feminism, mental health and political activism become increasingly destigmatized and “mainstream” society has begun (I think) recognizing the importance of having a diverse range of voices speak about their needs and concerns.
However, with the much needed discourse on contentious and historically taboo issues, there is also an inherent need for self-care.
I was having a conversation about self-care with a friend recently and they were delighted in how this new concept of looking out for yourself had suddenly taken the world by storm.
And that’s when I realized that the concept of self-care itself is so convoluted and full of stumbling blocks.
The concept of self-care was not created in 2016 after the world decided to implode. Although we can attribute much of the slowly increasing attention to the idea of self-care to a variety of sources (i.e., soft goth Instagram accounts that claim bubble baths are key to “getting over” depression — I swear this is real).
Self-care is absolutely vital in today’s political climate that profits off aggression, scapegoating, marginalization, oppression and just generally encouraging trolls and haters.
Self-care should be practiced by all, in whatever method is most appropriate and relevant for the individual.
By definition, self-care includes any practice that allows an individual to take care of their physical, emotional, mental and overall wellbeing. Self-care has been practiced by millions of people throughout history, in a variety of contexts.
However, because self-care is suddenly seen as this shiny new concept, and because we live in a profit-driven capitalist world, the way that self-care is being marketed to people as a “luxury” is actually quite harmful.
Self-care, as it is presented to young women on Instagram, Tumblr, etc., typically involves engaging in some form of rest and relaxation, which is not a bad thing at all.
However, they present rest as something that can be achieved through material goods, especially luxuries.
This doesn’t mean that spending an entire Saturday putting on facemasks, listening to Princess Nokia and taking a ridiculously long shower makes me a depraved capitalist crony.
It’s just important to understand that these forms of self-care are not accessible to all and that the companies who claim that buying their bath bombs or whatever are key to self-care are blind to the fact that not everyone has the time (to take off work or to sacrifice taking care of a family, etc.) or resources (bath bombs are kind of expensive, ngl) to engage in that particular form of rest.
As college students, we often see ourselves as the most overworked and underappreciated demographic and forget the big picture.
The issue isn’t that we don’t deserve to engage in self-care, because frankly, everyone deserves to engage in self care because it’s a basic human need.
The issue is that oftentimes people who exist at the intersections of oppression and who are actively fighting societal norms desperately need self care, but they don’t have access to it due to the way that self-care is synonymous with material goods. So, my point of writing all of this was basically to challenge ourselves to redefine self-care, and make it more accessible to all.
Vrinda Trivedi, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at VTrivedi18@wooster.edu.