I attended an event recently with a speaker who talked about how to be your best self. Sounds like a good thing, we all have room for improvement right? And for the most part this speaker was good and had good points. Points about how physical health can affect mental health, forming healthy habits takes time and focus, how posture effects mood, and the cumulative effect of little changes.
The talk jumped the shark, hit the skids, jumped the rails, however you want to say that, for me at one specific sentence. Really one fragment of a sentence. That fragment was, to paraphrase, that we need to take care of ourselves (as women) to be the best wives and mothers we can be. Excuse me?? No. We need to take care of ourselves to be the best PEOPLE we can be. How about single ladies who take care of ourselves so we have the energy to rescue animals or help friends? How about ladies who don’t want children? How about ladies who don’t want a husband to take care of but a partner? Or heaven forbid, women who choose to stay single? Do they not need to practice self-care?
Taking care of yourself has absolutely nothing to do with being a good wife or mother. It has to do with being able to give to others. Yes wives and mothers have to give time and love and resources to their spouses and children, but not exclusively. We do not live in some nuclear family bubble. We all have those around us who we care about that have no blood or marriage relation to us. We need to be able to give to them too. In an even broader sense, we need to take care of ourselves so we can care about others, strangers in fact. By taking care of ourselves, we can find the time and the energy and the will to make our world a better place. To volunteer, to campaign for human rights, to speak up when we feel that something is not right. Are these not worthy and necessary too?
Taking care of ourselves also has the ulterior motive of taking care of ourselves! How can we be happy if we are constantly emotionally and physically drained? How can we be productive when we cannot focus from fatigue? How can we feel whole when we deny ourselves things that make us truly healthy and happy? The answer is that we cannot. And shouldn’t not. You cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot give from an empty room. You cannot share from an empty plate. This is true no matter who or what you are giving to.
So I will take care of myself to be a better me, whatever that might be. I will take care of me so I can choose to be a wife or mother. So I can choose to be single. So I can choose to give back to animals. So I can choose. I will take care of me, for me. For my own health and happiness. Which may include all those roles above, but maybe not. I will take care of me, because if I do not then no one will.
Love and this is why I need feminism,