This piece is from some of my early published work about self care. XoJane is no more and I’d like to share this. For background, the ever lovely and one of my dear friends Marianne Kirby asked for this and we worked together for a time and did some good shit.
Jun 22, 2014Hey, poor folks.
Hi, I’m poor, too, and right now I want to talk to you about self-care.
Wait, let us have rules first.
First: Everybody deserves to self-care and everybody can do it.
Yes, including poor people.
Second: There is no right and wrong when it comes to self-care. You do what makes you feel fancy.
Third: While self-care is vital for survival and sometimes to get us through a metric ton of proverbial (or literal depending on your life) poop, it can still be fun and weird and silly.
Ready? OK, let’s go.
Now, poor folks, for most of us budgets are tight, time is limited and thinking of ways to care for ourselves that don’t cause us guilt or other bad feelings is a very exhausting and hard thing.
Using myself as an example — I love to crochet. I love books. I love makeup. I love clothes.
Even though I am not quite as poor as I ever have been, often money is tight and I have difficulty justifying buying something like a book or some makeup for myself.
There are deep and heavy emotions involved. I am pretty confident in saying that, for a lot of us who have dealt with poverty for a long time, it gets complicated.
The first big hurdle is learning to be okay with your self-caring in whatever form it takes. It is important to give yourself some time and space to breathe when life feels like it is choking you out. If nothing else absorb this:
You are worth it.
You deserve it.
You can do it.
Go ahead and tell yourself that a few times. I’ll wait. Let it soak in. If you have an angry or scared inner voice, tell it to shut it because Shannon said it is OK and it is.
I know it’s hard, but I believe in you.
And, friends, here I am.
Self-care for our purposes today can be anything. We are going to focus on figuring out what makes you feel fancy and how to go about engaging in the fancy thing without breaking the bank or freaking out.
Let’s start with some stuff that is way low cost and an excellent way to get into the habit of self-caring.
If you have about five bucks, I urge you towards the travel-size section of your local drug store — or the dollar store if you have one. Pick up some lotion. Doesn’t matter what kind or what it does. Sniff until you find one you like. This goes for dudes, too.
Next, grab a pack of nail files.
When you get home, give your hands a nice wash. Then sit down with your favorite show, music or whatever. Open up those nail files and smooth the edges of your nails. You don’t have to make them a neat shape, just smooth it out. When you’re done, run them on something soft. If you hit a snag, file it out.
When you’re done, take your new lotion and moisturize your hands.
When you’re finished, I want you to sit there for a minute and think about what you’re doing. You are doing it. That is self-care. You just did something nice for yourself because you’re awesome. It didn’t hurt, the world didn’t end — and best of all you have fancy smoothed-out nails and hands that feel and smell nice.
Holy crap! You are doing it!
The real purpose here isn’t the mini mani.
The real purpose is to start you, poor person, on your way to working out self-care that is budget friendly, low stress and that makes you feel fancy. I want you to start the process of getting comfortable with self-care, of owning it and — as we go on (if xoJane will have me back, naturally) — I want to help give you some ideas and tips for how to find yourself some small fancy or shiny things without so much cost.
We live in a world that can be very particular about who should and should not engage with self-care type behaviors. Especially those behaviors that involve looking good or things that are purely for our own pleasure. For those of us who are marginalized in a variety of ways and are also poor, this pressure mounts until a lot of us believe we have to go without — or should go without.
Now, before we end.
Try this for a few days. Lotion your hands, put sunscreen on your pretty face, drink a lot of water. Read a good book while you poo, make yourself an extravagant cup of coffee or tea, sit in the sun, curl up with your kidlet or pets and watch terrible tv shows.
If you don’t care about the nail filing, please take this as the real lesson and most important thing: Being poor does not make your value as a human being automatically less than. Being poor does not mean that you are not allowed to treat yourself well. It does not mean that you are disallowed from participating in things that make you feel good.
People who say outright or by their actions that if you are poor you are unworthy are complete buttholes — and, frankly, screw them and their nonsense.
OK, so now, my new friends, go forth and do some self-care. I would be really excited to hear about your adventures or how you’re feeling after experimenting (or even just thinking about) self-care as it applies to you.
OKAY my friends. I want y’all to think on a few things.
What do poor folks deserve?
Just that. Next post I’m going to talk about some of the pushback this article got, how it impacted my work and what it means.