The wellness industry has been historically homogenous and well, white. If you’re a white woman googling tips on self-care and mental health, you’ll find books, articles, and endless resources written for and by white women. On Instagram, a quick #wellness search propagates a feed dominated by images of white women caressing smoothie bowls, meditating, and doing yoga on the beach.
I’ve spent the last five years working as an editor in the health and wellness space. Often, I’ve been the only Person of Color in team meetings and one of a handful at international conferences where thousands have attended. As a Filipina working in this space, I’ve rarely seen my fellow People of Color genuinely represented and acknowledged by this industry.
This all begs the question: where are all the People of Color? And more importantly, what’s a Person of Color to do when the lack of representation makes them feel unwelcomed, othered, and unseen in the wellness world?
For many People of Color with large social followings, a brand’s representation is a key factor when it comes to collaboration. “If I don’t see BIPOC [(Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)] represented, then I cannot believe in you. Our intentions just don’t align,” said Nikia Phoenix, the founder of Black Girl Beautiful.
With the renewed Black Lives Matter movement bringing greater attention to the harsh systemic injustices faced by the Black community, many corporations are forced to examine how they are addressing diversity and actively fighting racism in the workplace. Among these corporations are a slew of wellness companies pledging to better represent People of Color. While this pledge of solidarity is no doubt a step in the right direction, the greatest and most significant change has come from Black entrepreneurs, speakers, and teachers in the wellness field creating spaces and self-care tools for their community.
According to Kelley Green, a certified yoga instructor and founder of Rise in Color, this is crucial. “As a community, in order to make the wellness experience more inclusive, BIPOC need to create and own more spaces for gatherings, whether virtually, in-person, including apps. More of us need to take ownership of the ability to lead and provide spaces that didn’t previously exist. This is how we create massive change in the lives of the communities we represent,” Green said.
View this post on Instagram
Re-sharing this because someone might need it. I know I did today. . . There’s vulnerable courage in self-choosing even when we feel rejected, left behind, unheard, and overlooked. . . Something I’m carrying close: Everyone won’t see us, get us, or receive us. Perhaps they weren’t meant to. Maybe we’re being done a favor. There’s a lesson somewhere — even when it hurts. . . Community: How are you choosing yourself these days? Where are you finding joy? . . If you’re looking to support my work, my new book “After the Rain” is available for pre-order at the link in my bio. It’s a labor of love and I cannot wait for you to hold it in your hands. My other books and guided journals can be found at alexelle.com/shopbooks
A Needle in The Haystack
“I realized finding Women of Color in the physical wellness space was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Green said. “When I was first introduced to yoga, I quickly noticed the majority of the studios where I live in NYC were filled with predominantly white women. The staff, the instructors, and the students were mostly of Caucasian descent, so I often found myself being either one of two People of Color in the class—or maybe even the only one.” Building spaces where Black voices feel safe and supported has far-reaching implications.
Black women are at three to four times the risk of pregnancy-related deaths for white women; while both Black and white women develop breast cancer at about the same rate, breast cancer death rates are 40 percent higher among Black women. The adult Black community is more likely to have feelings of sadness and hopelessness than adult whites, yet there is a glaring absence of culturally responsive health care providers available to their community. The work done by Black wellness advocates brings awareness to these disparities by providing the tools and resources needed to take action.
View this post on Instagram
What’s for dinner? When I have no idea what I want I’ll toss a sheet pan meal like this together and throw it in the oven. One pan, as few dishes as possible, and always a protein + a variety of veggies. What about you – what else are you guys loving / making / eating for meals these days? #nutritionhappens
Yasmine Cheyenne, a teacher, and speaker on mental health sought to create free mental health resources for BIPOC, as her experiences as a Black woman were not welcomed at the predominately white wellness groups and retreats she attended. “In BIPOC communities, I think we’re still unlearning a lot of the ways we haven’t been taking care of ourselves based on the way we’ve been taught to live in ‘survival mode’ all the time. Creating spaces where black people and POC feel comfortable healing, and where we can also have people who look like us and viscerally understand us is important for our community and our individual growth,” she said. As wellness brands proclaim their commitment to fighting racial injustice, how they move towards change will be telling. The task cannot fall on the Black community alone, and changing the wellness space to truly be more inclusive will itself be an effort in solidarity.
Beyond bringing more diversity to their social feeds, who companies hire to leadership positions, how they plan to implement long term processes to fight both overt and covert racial discrimination, and how they persist in creating platforms for People of Color long after the public eye is gone will be the real test.
To do your part in turning the tide, here’s what you can do:
Be aware of the ongoing public health crisis in the Black community rooted in centuries of systemic racism and prejudice. America is Failing Its Black Mothers is a good place to start. After that, read The Black Women’s Health Book: Speaking for Ourselves. When you’re done, don’t stop. Listen to black voices in the wellness space, have those tough conversations with those in your circle, and continue to educate yourself through the many resources available. If you’re looking for more reading material, here are 20 books on Black stories, white privilege, and how to be anti-racist.
View this post on Instagram
I recently shared why our collagen is great, but you might be wondering: “what makes Truvani Protein so special?” . Here’s what real customers have to say about it: . “Right out of the package, it smells good…Like cocoa. It doesn't smell sour or bitter like so many I have tried in the past. It mixes easily in a blender bottle – No chunks or pieces left in the bottom edge of the bottle. And finally the taste… The texture is smooth, not gritty and the flavor is of cocoa with slight "protein powder" flavor underneath. I am thankful to have a trustworthy source of protein and one that I can confidently recommend to my friends and colleagues! Nice work!!” – Corinn Tiwari . “I received the chocolate protein powder sample and tried it this morning. It was delicious !! I've had the hardest time finding a protein powder that I like and that my body likes. I can't have dairy and whey and I'm also so picky about taste, so I gave up looking for protein powder. You guys totally nailed it!! Thank you for creating this. I love the ingredients and that it's good for me and tastes so yummy and that I feel good after!!” – Lisa Oidvin It’s so nice hearing this. I built a brand that will never compromise on ingredients… and our products taste great, too. We live in a world where big companies fill their products with garbage ingredients and at Truvani we just won’t stand for it. Some other protein powders load up with artificial sweeteners, sugar, or other unnecessary additives. But Truvani cuts all of that out. We use only 5 ingredients in Vanilla. 6 ingredients in chocolate. And it tastes amazing. Just look at our labels (Swipe Left!) Plus, it’s USDA organic. And, we also obtained 2 new certifications: CERTIFIED VEGAN and NON-GMO Project Verified. (You won’t see the logo on the bags just yet because we just got our certification, but those certifications will be displayed prominently and proudly as we change over our packaging). So, if you’re ready to try Truvani’s Plant-Based Protein, check out the link in my bio. I know you’re going to LOVE it!
Support Businesses That Embrace Inclusivity
Whether it’s the yoga studio you attend or your favorite skincare brand, do a little research, and consider how that company’s messaging and images are helping to create a place of inclusivity. If you’re only seeing one type of woman being marketed to and for (or if their feed just recently includes People of Color), that’s problematic. And if you don’t see any People of Color as instructors or in executive leadership roles, it might be a sign to take your money somewhere else and support a business that is actively working to create diverse and inclusive spaces.
View this post on Instagram
We all need a little reset sometimes, however most of us don’t have the time or funds for a full fledge week long destination vacation, I know I sure don’t. In the name of accessibility..thank you blessed “staycation” for coming into save the day! One of my favorite ways to reset while not completely breaking the bank is a proper staycation. I have been using @hoteltonight loyally since 2015, and the magic of this app is that the longer you wait, the more you can save, making your last- minute craving for a staycation a REALITY! – – I always find that even one night away from cooking, writing recipes or curriculum for an event, etc REALLY helps reset my body, mind, and spirit. Pictured above you’ll find that I’ve ordered basically the entire room service menu lol Who says a staycation for there weekend can’t be just as healing as jumping on a plane? and like I said..in honor of accessibility, this is also a really wonderful option for those on a particular budget, but with major staycation needs. – – Do you have a favorite hotel to staycation at in your city? If you’re in NYC, What is your favorite hotel to stay in? Why? I am always on the lookout for new places to have a restful weekend away, but not too far away 🙂 #myhoteltonight #ad
Hold Wellness Companies Accountable
On that note, encourage those in positions of power to actively work towards addressing and dismantling racism in the wellness space. Message companies (studios, gyms, wellness brands, etc.) on social or email them asking how they are taking part in the current conversation on systemic racism—let them know that this impacts your decision to support them. Remember, as a customer, you hold purchasing power.
Amplify Black Voices
Support black leaders in the health and wellness space by listening to their podcasts, watching their videos, and following them on social. Repost, retweet, and reshare their work. Better yet, discuss their work in conversations with friends, family, and coworkers. Attend yoga classes, workshops, and retreats led by black instructors and teachers. If the wellness spaces you go to are mostly white, reach out to the owners to see how they can create more inclusive spaces where People of Color feel safe, welcomed, and acknowledged.