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How This Business Owner Is Loving Herself Through Fibroids

Love Yours' co-founder Mia Banks is what happens when purpose and pain blossom into passion.

Workin' Girl

Love Yours' co-founder Mia Banks is what happens when purpose and pain blossom into passion. The southern girl was born in Dallas, TX and raised in a small town near Little Rock, AR and much like many of us, Mia had planned out her whole life. With dreams of taking over the soundwaves, she studied Speech Communication at Missouri Western State University and further at Howard University, leading to her first paid position in radio as a board operator for WPGC 95.5.

One thing she never planned was being diagnosed with uterine fibroids.

According to the National Institute of Health, between 80 and 90 percent of African-American women will develop fibroids by age 50. The medical community describes uterine fibroids as noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can range in number and size from a single growth to multiple growths, and from very small to large. For Mia, she didn't realize anything was wrong with her periods intially despite feeling like they were a "whole production." She'd be so fatigued during the day that she'd have to spend her 30-minute lunch break taking a nap. She wore super-sized pads during the day and large overnight pads at night, with the extra protection of sleeping with a towel underneath her out of fear she'd ruin her sheets while she slept.

One day, at the start of her daily 50-minute work commute, she bled so badly it soaked through her pad, underwear, and dress pants. That's when she knew something wasn't right.

During an annual women's wellness visit, her OB/GYN felt a mass – leaving her to think she was pregnant because her uterus had expanded to the size of a 25-week pregnancy. After countless appointments, specialized ultrasounds, self-research and communicating with other women who suffered from the same diagnosis, she decided to have surgery in 2015 to have eight fibroids removed. Having experienced a diagnosis that affected her self-esteem, Mia knew she needed to create something that would uplift women when they are at their most vulnerable. Through her experience, Love Yours was born.

Love Yours Subscription Box - Winter 2019 EditionLove Yours

Co-created with her business partner Lydia Page, Love Yours is a subscription box that creates a quarterly experience reminding women everywhere to love themselves wholly, inclusive of their body, journey, mind and spirit. Each box contains a self-care ritual, packed with all things wellness, beauty, and skincare products specifically curated to help women love themselves more.

We had a chance to talk with Mia about living an authentic life, diligently pursuing her passions, and being persistent in fulfilling her purpose all while looking good and having fun.

What inspired you to create Love Yours?

I was inspired to create Love Yours with my business bestie Lydia Page because we both were at a crux of life. I was ready to dig deeper to pursue my dream of starting my own business that catered to women interested in beauty, "bossin' up" and blossoming at this thing called life. After a couple of meetings, Lydia came up with the name "Love Yours" to remind women everywhere to love all that they are no matter where there are in life.

How has having fibroids affected your life in both your personal life and in business?

Having fibroids has affected my life in a variety of ways but thank God it doesn't affect me as negatively as it once did being four years post-op from my myomectomy. Within my personal life, full disclosure: it hindered my sex life. I did not enjoy sex whatsoever. I literally used to question myself and ask what was wrong with me? I even asked my boyfriend. Like, it was a real self-esteem blow. I couldn't lie on my stomach to sleep and when I lied on my back, I felt a tugging sensation. And I could never get a flat stomach, even though I was working out 3-4 times a week then.

Image courtesy of Mia Banks

"I did not enjoy sex whatsoever. I literally used to question myself and ask what was wrong with me? I even asked my boyfriend."

What advice do you have for women suffering from fibroids?

Do your own research and make the best decision for you! Get a second and even third opinion if you feel the need. Also, do not allow any doctor to make you believe that a hysterectomy is the only solution, especially if you desire to have children. Google is your friend. I researched and researched. I discovered that women have so many more options today. I even joined an online support group. I researched and tried holistic options as well. Ultimately, I did what was best for me and my well-being, and that is what I'd encourage women who are suffering today.

Also, talk to your moms, grandmothers, sisters, [and] friends because your support group is usually a lot closer than we think, as most Black women suffer in silence. I learned a lot about other women in my immediate family who experienced issues with fibroids as well. Know that no procedure is a 100% cure because sadly, in most cases, the fibroids may return. Unfortunately, a few fibroids have returned for me, but they are significantly smaller in size and number. Hence, I'm now focusing on eating better and really focusing on more natural, holistic options this time around because I at least want to take home a baby or two the next time I'm cut open.

What does Love Yours mean to you? And what do you hope for women to gain from the box?

Love Yours means loving all of you – unapologetically. Love your past, present and future because all of those experiences make up who you are and what you contribute to the world. Love Yours is about girls and women being confident to be their authentic selves, courageous to pursue their dreams and clear about who they are as a female. Love Yours also embodies collaboration and support amongst women; we need each other to survive and thrive. I hope that women everywhere no longer feel guilty for putting themselves first. Self-care is self-love, and we can't adequately take care of our families and other responsibilities, if we don't first take care of ourselves.

Click here for a 10% discount on your Love Yours subscription.

Image courtesy of Mia Banks

"Love Yours means loving all of you – unapologetically. Love your past, present and future because all of those experiences make up who you are and what you contribute to the world."

How do you balance your career and self-care?

This is an evolving process. I've learned to #lovemyselfmore by giving myself grace. Sometimes it's as simple as indulging in a sweet treat and reminding myself that it's okay to "eat the cake." Other times it has to be very intentional, like scheduling a full-body massage two times a month or setting time aside on my calendar for meditation and prayer. Honestly, that is what works best for me with my demanding work schedule, I must put it on my calendar and treat self-care like any other task. It is my responsibility to take care of me.

Can you share a time you felt lost and how you made it through?

There was a time while living in Washington, DC that I was unemployed and felt completely lost and didn't know up from down. Full transparency, I was slightly depressed as a small town Southern girl living in the big city, no longer in graduate school, no longer calling home for a loan and really having to figure things out on my own. That period really forced me to level up and show up for myself. Thank God for my genuine relationships and my commitment to maintaining those relationships mutually.

Eventually, as with almost every "down moment" of life, I made it back into the light. One day, I simply spoke up and asked a friend of mine if he knew of anyone who was hiring for part-time work, and he connected me with a private school on Capitol Hill that was looking for after-school care coordinators. I applied and received that job, and it turned out to be just the boost I needed to get myself back going. Not to mention I had a great confidant and roommate who was both supportive and reminded me of my talents. I connected with a church family that was literally a Godsend and reminded me that it will all work out for my good. Life will always give us exactly what we need when we need it, we just have to pay attention and go with the flow when circumstances are out of our control.

Image courtesy of Mia Banks

"Life will always give us exactly what we need when we need it, we just have to pay attention and go with the flow when circumstances are out of our control."

If you had to choose three words to describe your life, what would they be and why?

Covered – I truly cannot answer this question without giving all glory, thanks and honor to God. I have numerous times from childhood to now when I can remember when I was down to my last – I even had a car accident where I could've lost my life -- but God saved me. I'm covered by God's grace, and that means I must share that grace with others through my daily actions, personal and professional brand. That's why I'm so sincere about Love Yours uplifting women.

Hustlher – I've always had to work hard for everything. I've never been given anything. Since I was 18, I've worked two jobs. I currently work three jobs – radio personality, HR professional and freelance makeup artist. I learned the importance of hard work and never making excuses from my mother.

Ambitious – I've always been taught to dream big and do everything I can to make my dreams a reality. I'm very ambitious. From grade school to now. I have high goals that I will achieve as long as I remain committed, true to me and secure in my abilities. That last part is an ongoing fight. I will win.

Keep up with Mia's journey on social media and check out the beauty of the Love Yours box as well!

Click here for 10% off of your Love Yours subscription box!

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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