Self care has become a trendy topic of conversation, with numerous articles and social media posts encouraging us to prioritize taking care of ourselves. While this is certainly important, it is also important to acknowledge that not everyone has equal access to sustainable self-care. Self-care is an act of privilege, and it’s essential to understand and recognize this fact.
Let’s be clear on what is meant by privilege. Privilege refers to the advantages or benefits that some people have over others simply because of their identity, background, or circumstances. So, how does privilege relate to self-care? In many ways, self-care requires resources that some people may not have access to, like time, money, or space. For instance, someone caring for a chronically ill loved one may not have the time or energy to practice proper self care. It’s essential to recognize that circumstances like these demand different forms of care that may not fall under the traditional self-care umbrella. It’s also important to recognize that well-meaning but useless self-care tropes like, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” may ring hollow to people who barely have the time, energy, or resources to get through their day.
Secondly, we need to consider the societal and systemic barriers that make self-care difficult for certain groups of people. Consider low-income individuals who may lack access to affordable healthcare or those who work minimum wage jobs with inflexible schedules. Single mothers, too, may not have the financial stability or support to take time for themselves when they’re juggling work and parenting. These are just a few examples of groups that often face barriers to self care, and it’s important to keep them in mind when talking about it.
Thirdly, there is often a misconception that self care is only about indulging in luxuries like massages or buying expensive skincare products. In reality, self care can take many forms, including getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising, and seeking therapy. It’s important to emphasize that self care is not one-size-fits-all, and individuals should find what works best for them, regardless of what society deems as “self care.”
Fourthly, privilege plays a role not only in access to certain self-care practices but also in messaging surrounding the importance of self-care. In many social contexts, self-care is often viewed as selfish and individualistic, which can lead people to feel guilty or ashamed for taking time for themselves. This type of thinking is prevalent in communities where individuals are conditioned to prioritize the needs and desires of others over their own. It’s challenging to break this cycle without understanding how privilege dictates the way we think about self-care messaging.
In conclusion, the conversation around self-care must include an acknowledgment of privilege. It’s so importantto understand that not everyone has equal access to sustainable self-care, and some people may not even have the privilege of choosing self-care as an option. Self-care is not just about personal responsibility but also a social responsibility. We must challenge social structures that perpetuate disparities in access to healthcare and self-care practices. It’s important to continue the conversation on self-care and privilege to ensure we are collectively working to create a more equitable understanding and access to self-care.