I began my mental-health-self-love-self-help-self-care journey in 2018. I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation at a large military hospital in Washington when I first picked up the teal and yellow book, You Are A Bad Ass Everyday by Jen Sincero. I was entranced. I thought surely if I just did as it said I’d be a fine in no time. I wrote so much in it and I truly believed the little affirmations were all the fuel I needed for a better life.
After reading books like All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks, Be Well by Dr. Jessica Clemons and You Got Me Fucked Up by Tamarisk M. Locke, I felt what was missing. I felt the release of reality and I was able to be honest about how much I’d be able to “help” myself. I felt the validation I needed as I tried my hardest to self-love my way through systemic issues.
How To Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen was recommended to me after reading the teal and yellow book years ago. As I read this self-help/personal growth book in 2023 I am utterly underwhelmed. In my piece A White Woman Wrote This I cover how nauseating writing for White audiences is, especially when portrayed as if it’s not. These self-help books are no different and contribute to the dismissive behavior in conversations regarding mental health, psychology, society and honestly everything.
The centering of Whiteness, White experiences and White feelings is excruciatingly apparent in those books. Thinness is mentioned often throughout the pieces along with the tying of monetary hoarding to success. There’s absolutely no mention of race, sexual orientation, gender beyond the binary or life outside of marriage, motherhood, business and?
I see this even in the way White women are speaking on atrocities happening world wide. Their first move has always been “self-care” and to them that means omitting the experiences of anyone who isn’t White and centering the feelings of people who are. For White women who face very little marginalization these books along with routines based in consumerism and capitalism are enough to feel free again but for people like me, it will never be enough.
Thank you for reading through! Hi, I’m K Mataōtama Strohl (They/Them). I’d love to be able to continue to share stories like this but I need your help to be able to do so. Please visit my Ko-Fi page to tip what you can and gain access to my other work. You can learn more about me and my work at the link below.