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Black, indigenous and women of color are not your sin-eaters, we don’t exist to endure pain for the sake of our communities.

The 1st of May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, and Wear Your Voice’s writers and editors have always worked on shedding light on the mental illness, health and the stigma attached to both. Mental health is a feminist issue—it is inextricably linked to oppressions like misogyny, queerphobia, transphobia, racism, ableism and a multitude of others. Studies have proven what we already know through our experiences: racism is literally making us sick. Micro and macro-aggressions take a toll on our mental health, and for those of us with mental illnesses, treatment is often difficult, heavily stigmatized or ignored. In our worst moments, mental illness can lead to the police killing us rather than helping us. Our pain goes unnoticed or untreated because there are limits to the empathy people feel for us, especially for indigenous and Black women and femmes. Resilience happens to be the thing people praise about us rather than our vulnerability or softness. But when do we get to be open, honest and broken without being discarded because we cannot take care of everyone around us? Why is it that people expect us to fix everything without taking the time to heal from our own wounds?
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Frida isn’t a commodity, she was a person who fought against materialistic consumerism.

As someone who has spent almost 20 years studying the life and art of Frida Kahlo, I’ve mused for hours over what her doll version would look. Here’s the Frida doll I’ve imagined: Since she spent so much time in a wheelchair due to illness and so many surgeries, her doll would have to come with one as an accessory. Accessories would also include a back brace, body cast, and washable paints so you could draw on her as she did herself. Her right foot to knee would be detachable, and modeled after the red boot prosthesis she designed and painted herself. Her clothing would be ethically sourced from the same villages she commissioned them in Mexico and would be an entire line all of its own to accompany the doll, as well as a variety of hairstyles and headdresses. The doll’s eyebrows would be thick and meet in the middle, and she would have a shadow above her upper lip. Underneath her elaborate outfit, Frida’s doll would be criss-crossed with a variety of scars across her legs, pelvis, belly, and back; Frida suffered her entire life and her avatar would need to represent all the physical pain that inspired and informed her art. The doll would come with a booklet explaining all of this, and would be written in a way that encourages people to go learn more about her rather than just consuming her image because she’s hip now.   But since we can’t have nice things (ever), Mattel created the exact opposite of a doll honoring Frida Kahlo. Instead of looking even a little like Frida, they have made her into an actual Barbie. Her unibrow is softened as are her striking features, and there is no evidence of her disabilities at all. In a nutshell, Frida has been grotesquely whitewashed.   Having been a fierce Communist until her death, she would despise this consumerist and capitalist "tribute" to her life and work on so many levels. Everything that Frida did in her self-presentation eschewed Western standards of beauty. She refused to pluck her brows or wax her face; she didn’t shave her underarms or legs. She rarely wore makeup and instead focused on layering away her pained body under handmade textiles from remote villages in Mexico, almost single-handedly bringing some of these traditional weaving methods back from cultural extinction.
Related: 10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT FRIDA KAHLO

Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough.

Self-care honestly gets a bad rep. There is a time for action and a time for rest, and our bodies and spirits need the balance of both to work their best. And while there's a space for self-care that incorporates face masks and bubble baths, the issue becomes apparent when self-care is only centered on addressing our appearances, rather than what truly plagues us below the surface. With self-care becoming more widely known, it's important that we understand the necessity of incorporating self-care that dives beyond the surface. Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough. We know that self-care is important because, like other living things, we need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others. Marginalized people especially tire ourselves out, each day, by overextending ourselves out of necessity and survival. Running on fumes is normalized. And when so many of us commit the invaluable parts of ourselves to causes that go bigger than ourselves, we have to learn how to better prioritize our revitalization. But self-care as we know it seems to be misdirected. Its purpose doesn't come from simply feeling better at the moment, but in helping to normalize self-healing. Self-care is an important tool that teaches us what long-term self-focused healing can look like, but exactly what does that mean?
Related: 8 MENTAL HEALTH AND SELF CARE RESOURCES FOR QTPOC

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