Written By Guest Writer Leah Thomas
Black Wellness Influencers To Follow I grew up admiring the black women in my life for their constant, unwavering strength in a society that wasn’t built for them. Both of my grandmothers who lived through segregation went to college and ended up working in the same elementary school. I used their stories to motivate me and to keep going, regardless of the obstacle.
Whenever I think of black women there’s one word that comes to mind: strength. However, as I grew older and strived to persevere like my ancestors and role models, I realized how much pressure it was to live in a constant state of survival mode. It was important to pause and reflect on the historical trauma in my community and heal instead of striving to be a superwoman.
Although this strength is almost magical, black women are human and deserve time to process the trauma and complexities in our communities and daily lives. I started investigating self-care and exploring what it meant to relax. With the help of social media, more black women are taking their healing into their own hands and creating safe spaces dedicated to wellness.
“Wellness isn’t whiteness. It’s for everyone.” Black History Month is a great time to dive deeper into intersectional feminism and examine how you can support and uplift black women. These black women have created platforms to promote wellness and self-care within the black community and remind the world that wellness isn’t whiteness. It’s for everyone. Hear from them in their own words what wellness means to them and what inspired them to share their journey with the world to create change. Dr. Crystal Jones
“I use my platform to engage black women in the beauty of their wholeness and divinity through thought-provoking questions and statements that guide them inward. Wholeness is so important for foundational healing and recognition of internal power. As black women, often, we outsource our power and question our inner knowing. My platforms shift consciousness and cultivate brave spaces to travel within.” FOLLOW CRYSTAL ON INSTAGRAM Rachel Ricketts
“As a racial justice activist and intuitive healer, wellness is my lifeline. If my cup is empty I have nothing to give to others, so it is my duty to ensure I am prioritizing my self-care in order to sustain myself and my work to dismantle racist heteropatriarchy and help Black and Indigenous womxn heal from white supremacy. Wellness can be, and often is, a very white-washed space and it is of the utmost importance that Black womxn and our perspectives, challenges and wisdom are included in the wellness community so we feel sufficiently safe to partake. I firmly believe Black womxn's healing has and will continue to lead revolutions, not only for our own personal and ancestral healing, but for the collective.
I use my platform to bring wellness practices to womxn of colour, specifically Black and Indigenous womxn, creating a brave space where we can gather in communion, share our struggles and connect with culturally-informed spiritual practices to heal our hearts. Through shared dialogue, breathwork, yoga + meditation we find tolerance to sit with our discomfort, honour our grief and expand into personal and collective freedom.” FOLLOW RACHEL ON INSTAGRAM Kimberly Fe’Lix
“Wellness is so much more than yoga + kale salads. With my platform, I aim to inform: both my community and the brands that seek to target us. I have a research background so a huge part of my content is about bringing receipts—I delve into the how and why. It’s not just buying whatever hot new “clean beauty” product is out there, but about explaining why you should be making the switch in the first place. The other half of that is working with brands to help them understand why women of color aren’t buying their products. The makeup colors may be all wrong (or not inclusive enough) or maybe the cut of the beautiful sustainable dress doesn’t fit all body types, etc. Using my platform to share all of the amazing “better for you and mother earth” options is really important. I hope along the way I inspire women of color to see themselves within this wellness space. Representation is so important. Wellness can mean many things and most importantly it is ours for the taking, too.“ FOLLOW KIMBERLY ON INSTAGRAM Chelsea Williams
"Wellness is important to me because this body has to carry me through life. No one else is responsible for my health, but me. What I consume has a lasting impact on my body. I want to feel and be as healthy as possible so that I can live a full and abundant life. I strive to use my platform as a way to inspire Black women to make healthier choices, no matter where they are in their individual wellness journeys. We know that there are varying levels of access when it comes to health and wellness. However, I try to be a resource and provide thought-provoking dialogue in terms of ingredient and nutrition labels. I want Black women to feel confident enough to decipher what they are consuming so they can make better informed purchase decisions that will ultimately improve their overall health."
FOLLOW CHELSEA ON INSTAGRAM Nikia Phoenix
“My platform, Black Girl Beautiful is a space of love and encouragement for Black women. I created it to uplift us and help us truly own the power we possess. Every day the world tells us that as Black women, we are not enough. This is why wellness is so necessary to protect our state of mind, body, and spirit. We need to replenish ourselves daily with affirmations and acts of self love.”
FOLLOW NIKIA ON INSTAGRAM Yasmine Cheyenne
“Wellness is so important for me because setting the intention to take care of ourselves and following that intention with action is how we learn to love ourselves. We often believe that through being loved from others we'll finally feel grounded and settled, but I've found that through learning to love ourselves, we're not only able to be present to our true needs but we're also able to be present to those we care about. As a woman of color in wellness, I think it's important to be a part of the conversation of self-care and create a space where women can grow and build community. With the community I've built, I share my journey and through that, we all feel connected in the discovery of navigating our individual lives as we realize we're not that different. And that awareness helps us all heal.”
FOLLOW YASMINE ON INSTAGRAM Stevona Elem-Rogers
“My father was a self-made multimillionaire, one of our nation's only Black grocers, who refused to move his stores out the hood because he believed Black people of all socioeconomic status deserved access to high-quality food. My mother was a Black Panther who made sure I understood that “power to the people” came with an understanding that we are our greatest resource.
I was born into a legacy of caring for us, in particular, Black women. Who historically and now take on so much of the work that needs to be done. I write and create with us in mind and the ‘Black women are for grown-ups’ campaign was born out of that intention. One of my favorite scholars, Dr. Camika Royal said, “When we affirm Black women are for grown-ups, it means we live as our complex, mighty, vulnerable selves, and we require the same of those with whom we interact.”
What I have found on the other side of this work is that wellness plays a huge role in how I show up for myself. I am learning and encouraging other Black women to embrace holding space for ourselves and grown people we love instead of doing the work for them. It has been a hard shift for me, but I now practice what it means to listen to someone, make sure they know they are loved, and say, “whatever you decide know that I’m here to hear you.” Whereas the old me would have emptied my pocketbook, spent all night online trying to find the perfect solution, or hours every day encouraging on the phone. I now just hold space.”
FOLLOW STEVONA ON INSTAGRAM Kelley Green
“Wellness is important to me because I’m familiar with how desperate my life can feel without it. I’ve learned that order to maximize our quality of life, our happiness, and our success, we have to implement a wellness practice. If not, we risk being drowned by stress, illnesses, anxiety, and more. When wellness wasn’t a priority for me, my life reflected it in a poor way—mentally, physically, and spiritually, I was struggling. This is why, as an Empowerment Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor, I’m using my platform to introduce women to different mental and physical exercises in order to help them step out of their struggles and step into lives that they love.”
FOLLOW KELLEY ON INSTAGRAM Brooke DeVard
“The Naked Beauty Podcast is all about women sharing their candid stories and personal journeys with beauty and self-care. For me, it’s always been important to provide a platform for women of color (from beauty editors to entrepreneurs) to share these stories. And for the listeners, hearing from these inspiring women, my hope is that they’re able to see glimpses of themselves and evolve their own journeys with wellness and how they express themselves through beauty as a result.”
FOLLOW BROOKE ON INSTAGRAM Bella Rozzay
"Wellness brought me home to myself. In 2015, I began a series on my very first blog, Words to Bella, called the Soul Search Series, and what I thought would be a few weeks of entries turned into a life-long journey. On this search I discovered powerful tools that I [now] cannot imagine myself life without. In my personal practice, wellness falls under the self care umbrella: I care for myself by creating routines that allow my mind, body and spirit to be well. These practices have shown me how powerful my being is by reminding me that I can always activate choice. Whether I choose to meditate, sleep, write, cook, exercise—whatever it is, the action started within me.
Wellness serves as the foundation of my personal platform as well on @BellaCreatives_. In both spaces I share my own words, as well as those from women who inspire me, such as Alex Elle, Dr. Crystal Jones, and Yasmine Cheyenne, to support and encourage Black women no matter where they are on their wellness journey. Commercial wellness suggests that you have to sacrifice your rent to attend a retreat, have a "perfect" yoga practice, and follow a strict diet in order to achieve 24/7 zen. While that is attainable for some, that is not the reality for most of us. There are days when we feel less than deserving, talented, worthy etc., and in the spirit of transparency I share those days with my community. Not only to let them know they're not alone, but to create an opportunity to have a conversation about wellness: what it looks like, why it's important, and how to create our own unique practices. Through the sharing of my testimonies, writing and resources, I use my platform to make wellness attainable and relatable for all Black women, regardless of their class, education or reputation."
FOLLOW BELLA ON INSTAGRAM Trinity Mouzon Wofford
"When I first launched Golde, I was frustrated by the lack of accessibility and inclusivity of the wellness space. Rarely did you see people of color associated with modern wellness, and almost never as founders. As a young black entrepreneur, I'm honored to be making space for everyone to engage with superfoods and explore the concept of self-care."
FOLLOW TRINITY ON INSTAGRAM Melinda Oliver
“Yoga is an amazing tool for good self-care because it's such a personal practice. It draws you inward, and self-care, of course, starts with you. Self-care asks you to truly tap into yourself and listen to your needs. In the practice of yoga, we are constantly inviting in that vulnerability and self-reflection. We're taking time on our mat and in meditation to convene with ourselves. We're taking care of the physical and the mental all at once.
For a lot of women—black women, in particular—we are so used to taking care of others and handling business that we rarely slow down and ask ourselves: What do I need? How does my body feel? Or what is going on with me lately? And as a teacher, I am always asking my students to take that time for self-reflection because I believe it ultimately leads to that self-love and care that so many of us are looking for.”
FOLLOW MELINDA ON INSTAGRAM Stephanie Williams
My mission is to simplify veganism for the everyday person in my community so they can live a longer and healthier life.
I feel like the black community is starting to wake up and has been making strides in an effort to eat healthier and be around longer for their families. I actively pursue this mission of spreading advocacy for health plant-based eating through my social channels”