Turning to food to explore wellness is sisterwoman vegan, a plant-based social enterprise that creates space for critical wellness conversations through the means of supper clubs, food education and private catering. Founder Safiya Robinson facilitates this anti-racist, decolonial, anti-capitalist, trans-inclusive, queer friendly, and fat-positive space. ‘As a society, we have aligned wellness with luxury and whiteness,' Robinson states. 'As POC we have to access wellness so differently because we have different lived experiences of being unwell.’
Another organisation reclaiming space and nature-led wellness is birdwatching collective Flock Together, which operates in London, Accra and Toyko. ‘When you see a big group of people of colour in [London’s] Richmond Park, it’s like we’re reclaiming those spaces and demanding access to them,’ says co-founder Ollie Olanipekun. ‘You can see how happy other Black people are to see us. So, we have to be more visible, because we are setting an example for the next generation.’
Self-care and community care aren’t separate, they’re deeply interconnected. Just as human beings are interconnected to each other, our soil and society, we are a part of a whole health system built upon empathy, love and respect. In turn, these communities give us a sense of home. At YSM8, we’re also building care structures where the wellbeing of all people is valued and supported. We are not just choosing to change our own lives, we are working to build a new world driven by kindness, compassion and care.
This new paradigm will mean viewing wellness through an interconnected and intersectional lens. While we are all part of humanity, our lived experiences are richly nuanced and diverse, especially for those who face discrimination on a daily basis. Black, brown and POC communities need to see themselves represented authentically in a way that celebrates our identities within the wellness world, without erasing parts of ourselves.
For wellness brands, the future lies in rethinking how to engage and support communities beyond product sponsorship or marketing. Brands will need to consider how to co-create long-term change with existing and wider communities. Collaborate more closely with POC practitioners of different abilities and focus; stop assuming and start asking the right questions, talking to people about their lived experiences. When we work towards our own healing, while working together to help others have equitable access to support, we heal as a community – with emphasis on ‘unity’.
Poonam Dhuffer, founder of self-awareness and community care platform YSM8, which uses workshops, talks, coaching and events to reframe mindsets and deepen spiritual practices.
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