The Radical Roots of Self-Care
Before self-care became an Instagram hashtag, it was a radical idea of resistance in the 1960s touted by Black liberation voices. The concept of caring for yourself as a survival and political liberation strategy was integrated into the Black Panther Party’s community empowerment message and advocated by Black feminist poets like Audre Lorde.
These radical roots of self-care acknowledged the harm caused when the world around you did not care about you and the necessity of caring for yourself to resist oppression. Self-care in the 1960s was not about feeling better. It was about survival.
Lorde explains, “We draw on our creativity, celebrate our culture, wisdom, authenticity, and experience liberation and lightness in body and soul. We reconnect to our innate healing and bring community-based healing as an antidote to community-based trauma. As we dare to move, we see ourselves for who we are rather than how the world positions us. Honoring our beauty and worth and prioritizing our needs and wellbeing becomes self-care as a radical act.”
Self-care as an act of self-preservation in a world that traumatized you is not the notion of self-care that we are bombarded with today. The connection to the radical roots of resistance and liberation has given way to self-care checklists that – from what I can tell – are not even rooted in the experiences of people writing the lists.
To truly exercise self-care, we need to remember the radical roots of self-care. These roots remind us that self-care is about liberation from rules that you weren’t a part of creating and living an authentic life that relies on your innate healing wisdom.