The concept of going to therapy has now been made mainstream as all things mental health matters have been brought to the forefront. While prioritizing our mental health is something this panorama and 2020 overall has emphasized is of the utmost importance, enforcing boundaries and amplifying self-preservation is still something seen as a radical act of self-love among Black women. And it's because so many of us are still unlearning hard lessons of toxic strength and resilience that brainwashed us into believing we have to have our capes on at all times.
We are so used to being all things to all people, we often forget ourselves, so the Naomi Osakas and Simone Bileses of the world doing their part to emit a battle cry of "no" in lieu of placing themselves first has been yet another thing to add to the list of things "we love to see" for the culture. In her recent cover story with British Vogue, Zendaya added her voice to the growing mental health conversation by revealing why she is such an advocate for therapy.
Despite the undoubtable M's in her bank account and her award-winning projects on deck, the Hollywood starlet had trouble navigating uncertain times as shakily as a lot of us did outchea last year. She described what she went through emotionally as a "kind of taste of sadness where you wake up and you just feel bad all day, like what the f**k is going on? What is this dark cloud that's hovering over me and I don't know how to get rid of it, you know?"
After encountering one of her most difficult years to-date, Zendaya decided to look to therapy to help pull her out of her dark moments. She explained to British Vogue:
"Yeah, of course I go to therapy. I mean, if anybody is able to possess the financial means to go to therapy, I would recommend they do that. I think it's a beautiful thing. You know, there's nothing wrong with working on yourself and dealing with those things with someone who can help you, someone who can talk to you, who's not your mom or whatever. Who has no bias."
Zendaya is not alone in expressing the gratitude for the peace of mind she's experienced since investing in therapy. In fact, here are 9 more celebs on why they are advocates for going to therapy.
In a 2019 interview for Fuse's The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle, Issa Rae admitted that she hadn't really considered going to therapy a priority until hearing the stories of the two co-hosts and how they've done the work. She also noted that watching her mother and grandmother as Black women carry around burdens with no one to help them with it served as another reminder to invest in therapy as an act of self-care.
"...I think the first time I finally made the time to go was just last year. I did three little sessions and I fucked with it. But it is important to not necessarily go because you think something's wrong, but you should if you're in an industry like this, prioritize it because nobody else will. And that's what I've learned just throughout my journey here."
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson has been doing the work and paying it forward through her work with her foundation, Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. Per The Jasmine Brand in 2019, Taraji P. Henson revealed:
"I suffer from depression. My anxiety is kicking up even more every day, and I've never really dealt with anxiety like that. It's something new… It [fame] was fun at first, but the older I get, the more private I want to be. I think there's a misconception with people in the limelight that we have it all together, and because we have money now and are living out our dreams, everything is fine. That's not the case. When they yell 'Cut' and 'That's a wrap,' I go home to very serious problems. I'm still a real human."
In regards to investing in therapy, she went on to say:
"You can talk to your friends, but you need a professional who can give you exercises. So that when you're on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off that ledge and past your weakest moments."
Janelle Monae is another entertainer who has made it no secret that she looks at going to therapy as a vital part of her self-care regimen.
"When I first started getting a check, I went to therapy. Therapy is important. And being a Black woman that was not something that was pushed in my community, it was always 'pray about it, God will take care of it'. I believe in a higher power but I also believe that that higher power gives you people on Earth to help walk you through some of your darkest times and help you cope and deal."
"You need to find a way to talk about the darkest parts of your life. I've been in therapy for the last 25 years. Whatever path you need to take to heal, it's the best one."
A couple of years ago, rapper Big Sean got real about the "why" behind him taking a year-long hiatus to take care of his mental health. Shortly thereafter, he became more candid about his experience with anxiety and depression and how therapy ultimately helped him gain clarity.
"I just felt lost. You know what I'm saying? I didn't know how I got there. I've been meditating since I was 17 years old. You know, that helps with anxiety, depression all those things. All those things that I felt. But it wasn't doing it all the way for this, so I knew that this required some special attention.
"So what I did was, I started therapy. I got a good therapist. You know what I'm saying? I was blessed enough to talk to some super-spiritual people. And they made me realize one thing that I was missing in my life, and that was clarity."
Keke Palmer is another young celebrity that has been candid about her bouts with anxiety and depression throughout the years. She opened up to Cosmopolitan about being in therapy for years as a means to cope with her mental health issues:
"Being able to say how I feel, that was something that was so hard for me for so long. If you grow up in the industry, it forces you to be agreeable at all times. When it came to saying 'I'm tired and I want to figure out how to balance my life better,' 'I feel lonely, 'I'm afraid of my stardom' — those things I could not say."
In a 2018 chat with Oprah Daily about mental health, Kelly Rowland opened up about what inspired her to go to therapy:
"I realized I didn't want to try to figure things out by myself. I can try as much as I can, but doing it all myself, I'd end up driving myself insane circling the same situation and same problem over and over again."
"Sometimes people feel like faith and praying...and don't get me wrong, I have faith and I pray and I do believe I'll get through things with that also. But I like to talk to somebody who has the insight of psychology, too. There are other connectors. It's important that we understand that as well."
"I've done therapy on an as-needed basis since I was probably 10 years old. My father was an alcoholic and a very abusive one, and my mother knew the value of providing me with the outlet of an unbiased person to talk to. So I've done that all my life when times get stressful. It really helps me deal with stuff."
"Therapy helped me realize that maybe it's OK for me to communicate my feelings. Instead of literally stuffing them down with food, maybe it's okay for me to express myself.
"I say that publicly because I think it's really important to take the stigma away from mental health. My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don't know why I wouldn't seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn't I go to a shrink?"
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Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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What Is 'Vaginal Laxity' And How Can You Effectively Treat It?
If you’re either not yet (roughly) in your 40s or you’ve never given birth to a child, let me just tell you that something that’s probably coming your way that you probably never gave much thought to is some form of vaginal laxity.
Although I’ve been able to avoid it until, eh, the last several months or so, now that it likes to show up and out on occasion, I have definitely made it my purpose and mission to figure out how to get it under some level of control — not because I take issue with aging (I don’t); it’s just that, sneezing too hard and feeling a drip or two has never been a part of my life, so why start now, chile.
Yeah, vaginal laxity isn’t really something that a lot of women are running to the water cooler to discuss. Oh, but believe you me, it is something that affects quite a few women (around 40 percent self-report it; others prefer to “suffer” in silence).
So, just so you won’t find yourself freakin’ out or feeling some form of shame or embarrassment should it even come knocking on your own door (uh, so to speak), let’s take out a few moments to discuss what vaginal laxity is and how you can (relatively) easily treat it — even from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
What Exactly Is Vaginal Laxity All About?Giphy
Even though we all pretty much use the word “vagina” to address our entire genitalia, that’s not actually what it is. Technically, your vagina is a tube that connects your vulva (the outer part of your vaginal region) to your cervix (the neck of your uterus). Your vagina is how penises can penetrate you, and vaginal births are able to transpire.
As far as the walls of your vagina go, they consist of muscular tissue, mucus membranes, fibrous material, and collagen. Your vagina also has pleats of tissue called vaginal rugae; this is what makes it easier for your vagina to expand, whether it’s during sex or when you’re delivering a baby.
As we age, the potency of our vaginal rugae weakens. That’s because we start to lose estrogen and collagen. And whether it’s due to aging or giving birth, sometimes our vaginal walls can become weaker as well; when that happens, it’s oftentimes referred to as vaginal laxity.
So, what are some of the telltale signs of vaginal laxity (beyond what I just said)? Good question:
- Urinary continence
- Less vaginal lubrication
- Pain/discomfort during intercourse
- Less sensation during intercourse
- More vaginal “air sounds” during sex and/or exercise (because your walls are a bit looser)
- A lower libido altogether
And what if you’re slowly yet surely seeing some of this popping up in your own life? My two cents are to not ignore it because, if it is indeed vaginal laxity, it’s not really something that will just…go away. You will need to book an appointment with your doctor to discuss with them what is going on so that they can test your hormone levels, do a vaginal exam, and (if you do have it) explore some treatable options with you.
Options like what? That is also a good question.
Why Do Some People Treat It with Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgical Procedures?Giphy
Okay, so here’s the deal — if you are indeed “diagnosed” (I put that in quotes because many medical professionals say that vaginal laxity isn’t the easiest thing in the world to actually diagnose), you will need to go through some form of vaginal rejuvenation whether it’s surgical, laser or opting for some DIY approaches. Let’s touch on some of the professional options first.
Vaginoplasty: Although this term is being associated more and more with transwomen, it originally was created to help women to reconstruct their vagina (again, the actual tube) if there was significant damage done following vaginal childbirth.
Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation: This is when lasers are used to strengthen the walls of your vagina. A popular one is FemTouch, although I recently read an article about how the FDA should really take a deeper look into this procedure due to the potential risks that come along with it (like burning your vagina due to the intensity of the laser frequencies).
RF (Radio Frequency) Treatment: This is a skin-tightening procedure that consists of heating up your vaginal walls in order for it to create more collagen, elastin, and skin cells.
Potential risks aside, from what I’ve researched, it was hard to nail down an exact price for any of these. What I can tell you is that you’re easily gonna need a couple of thousand dollars to get the kind of results that you are looking for — and that’s on the low end of things.
What Are Some At-Home Remedies for Vaginal Laxity?Giphy
Listen, I don’t know about y’all, but nothing in me likes the thought of clipping, potentially burning, or draining my bank account if I can at all avoid it. Thankfully, there are some things that you can try at home (at least first) that are safer, cheaper, and that many physicians say are just as effective.
Kegels. If there’s one word that you’ve probably heard a billion times at this point, it’s kegels. They are exercises that help to strengthen your pelvic floor walls, which can definitely help to reduce incontinence and, as a bonus, intensify your orgasms too.
Squats. Usually, when squats are brought up, it’s in the context of creating a rounder butt. However, your vaginal walls can benefit from them as well. That’s because by focusing on strengthening your legs and working out your hips, it tightens your pelvic floor at the same time. So clearly, squats are a win all the way around.
Yoga. Last month, we published the article “5 Postpartum Yoga Poses To Reengage Your Pelvic Floor That Are Better Than Kegels.” I’m thinking that is pretty self-explanatory, although I do believe that it should also go on record that yoga also helps to reduce stress — and since stress can jack up your hormone levels and that can result in vaginal dryness, well…yeah, yoga is definitely something that you should consider getting into if you want your vagina to be “tight and right.” A site by the name of Wellness Travel Diaries even did you a solid by publishing “15 Powerful Yoga On Youtube Classes With Black Teachers.” #givethanks
Phytoestrogens. If your doctor confirmed that your estrogen levels are steadily decreasing, while you can do some form of estrogen therapy (definitely speak with your physician first), there are also foods that are rich in estrogen; they’re called “phytoestrogens” because they are a plant-based form of estrogen. Some phytoestrogens include cashews, garlic, peaches, broccoli, dried fruit, berries, and red wine.
Vitamin C-Enriched Foods. Remember how I said that vaginal laxity can lead to less collagen too? Well, since vitamin C helps to stimulate collagen production, also consume foods that are filled with this particular nutrient. Some that top the list include bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, white potatoes, citrus fruits, parsley, and strawberries.
Less Sugar. It really is wild how delicious processed sugar is when intel just keeps on revealing how bad it is for our health (especially when not consumed in extreme moderation). As far as your vagina goes, not only does the bad bacteria in it like to feast on sugar (which can lead to a chronic yeast infection), but it also has the ability to weaken collagen fibers. Yep, that’s why a lot of people see premature fine lines and wrinkles; they’ve been eating too much sugar!
Weight Management. Weight puts added pressure on the body, and your pelvic area is certainly not exempt. One way to avoid doing this to yourself is exercising and staying at a healthy weight. Your vaginal walls will be so much stronger for it.
Plenty of water. Every part of your body needs plenty of fluids; that’s because your body is mostly made up of water (reportedly, somewhere around 60 percent). When it comes to your vagina, specifically, consuming water helps to flush out toxins, reduce dry and itchy vulvar skin and, it can help to keep the natural juices down their flowing so that a lack of lubrication isn’t as much of an issue.
Again, vaginal laxity isn’t something that gets us excited as far as getting older goes — yet now that you know more about it and how to handle it, hopefully, you’ll approach it with grace and ease. Hmph. I know I plan to.
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