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“Be forgiving and patient with yourself. Learn not to be apologetic about making time for yourself. Remind yourself you deserve it.”

Self-care is a fluid concept. It is vital and it looks different from person to person. Essentially, self-care means doing something kind for yourself, for your mental well-being, for your physical well-being. Self-care is revolutionary for women of color and, as Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

I hold that sentence so close to my heart. When black women, especially queer or trans black women, nurture and love themselves, it is most definitely revolutionary.

I write so much about self-care in regard to race because of my own experiences as a multiracial, queer woman. I have come to understand the importance of decolonizing vulnerability and self-care because of our own internalized martyrdom when it is specific to non-white cultures.

I still battle this idea in my mind that I should feel guilty about my “guilty pleasures” and that prioritizing myself is somehow selfish or damaging. In reality, those harmful ideas are a part of us because we have internalized systems of oppression. Patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism rely on us valuing paid and unpaid labor over ourselves and our happiness.

Related: Can Chores and Paying Bills Be Self-Care? Cameron Says Yes.

Every week, Wear Your Voice will be featuring an interview with a woman of color on what self-care means to her. Our hope is to provide our readers with a better look at what self-care looks like for different people so that we can help decolonize self-care for better resistance. This week, I interviewed sex therapist Raquel Savage for her thoughts on self-care.

Raquel Savage

WYV: What does self-care mean to you? 

Raquel Savage: It means checking in with yourself. Mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what our body/mind is trying to tell us, so taking a second to listen is a large part of self-care from my perspective. Really being able to tune into what’s going on with you, being present with yourself and honoring what your body and mind is trying to communicate to you.

Also, making time to do things that center you and bring you peace. So part of that is knowing what brings you joy and peace.

WYV: What are some of the things that you do for self-care? 

RS: I’m an introvert, and I need a lot of “me time.” Time to reflect, time to decompress, time to be silent. I really enjoy watching movies (horror & sci -fi are my favorite). I love to snuggle with my cats and be really present with them. What brings me the most joy is going to the beach. By far my favorite self-care activity is being in water! Preferably naked — my mind is quiet and I feel very connected when I’m in the ocean!

WYV: What advice would you give to women & femmes who are just learning to put themselves first? 

RS: Be forgiving and patient with yourself. We’re not used to prioritizing ourselves, so it may take time to get used to centering YOU. Learn not to be apologetic about making time for yourself. Remind yourself you deserve it. And if it is difficult, literally schedule your self-care. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of mindfulness in the morning, set a reminder!