The relationship we have and nurture with self lays the foundation for how we relate to and connect with others in our lives. Assessing the issues that discourage self-love from prospering are key in order to repair and reignite the freedom that comes when we finally believe the words "you are enough." I chatted with self-love advocate and lifestyle entrepreneur Shelah Marie – who you may remember from when her 2017 photo of doing yoga with boyfriend, rapper Ace Hood, went viral. Shelah's mission is to create a movement of total self-love and liberation for women of color through her platform Curvy, Curly, Conscious – a place where "self-help" meets "real talk" through virtual and offline events and retreats.
Shelah opens up about her healing journey and gives tips for others repairing one of most important relationships a woman will ever have: The one she has with herself.
To fully understand how self-love evolves over time, we must start at the beginning – childhood. "I grew up as the only person of color growing in my home..the only Black person in my neighborhood. I was the only one with hair like mine, skin like mine. I couldn't figure out why I was different. My [immediate] family wasn't open to talking about it."
"Because I had fundamentally saw the world through race at a young age...what I saw was a big deal. Everyone didn't look the same and it mattered. I learned to deconstruct the performance of race around me...I was aware of people's emotions and saw things that people weren't saying. I always wanted to create something that I never saw."
Acting, the performance of characters, and storytelling became a passion of Shelah's. Her 2010 move to New York City to enroll in a Master's program at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts would be the domino that set off a chain of important events in her life. "My experience in New York changed who I was. I learned a lot about other cultures, languages, and how to appreciate the small things. I couldn't afford TV or cable or a car. I didn't have disposable income. I learned to exist on very little. I put everything into my craft."
A Journey Into Self-Love & Self-Healing
Photo Credit: Latoya Osborne
Courtesy of Shelah Marie
From juggling multiple jobs to dealing with seeing her friends "making it", Shelah became severely depressed and her anxiety peaked. "I was always surrounded by people, but I was always alone in my mind. My self-esteem was so low and I started to attract people that reflected that. I attracted men that were treating me in an unhealthy way. One relationship got extremely abusive."
An argument turned into Shelah's then-partner telling her, in front of her roommates, "Yeah, bitch. You're a bitch and I hope I'm the first person to ever call you that, bitch."
Enough was enough.
"I saw myself as a child and I realized the only other person to call me a bitch in front of people was my mom. This is where my spiritual journey kicked up a notch. I told myself that I get it. Whatever pain and hurt that is within me that feels the need to manifest this man to reflect my beliefs at me this strongly...this will never happen again. I will never be at this place again. Whatever I have to do to heal it, I will do. From then on, I put myself through Shelah's school of self."
Shelah recognized that in order to reach her potential, she would have to learn to navigate past the toxicity in her life. Over the next few years, self-healing became her priority. Four important things led the way for Shelah's transformation: Talk therapy, working with a healer, reading, and meditation. This work allowed Shelah to confront the trauma that was hiding in her subconscious. She was committed to equipping herself with the information so she could start to understand what she had been through in life.
Meditation was especially helpful as it allowed her to "get friendly" with herself. "I realized I was an adult and didn't know myself and have never sat with myself. I'd used men, career, work to distract me."
The reality of sitting in and embracing pain is something that many women of color often accept as a part of life, Shelah believes. "'I'ma talk to Jesus. I'ma go to church. I'm going to pray about it...get a new outfit, you'll be fine.' This is what we tell each other. It doesn't work. Black women are comfortable with sharing their pain just from a place of 'This is just how it is.' When I used to listen to a lot of Gospel, I would become addicted to how much pain I would feel. Sometimes we can get addicted to that space of talking about the pain, living in the pain, and being in the pain. That space is part of the process but I'm more interested in moving beyond that."
Photo Credit: Latoya Osborne
Courtesy of Shelah Marie
"Whatever pain and hurt that is within me that feels the need to manifest this man to reflect my beliefs at me this strongly...this will never happen again. I will never be at this place again. Whatever I have to do to heal it, I will do."
How Meditation & Self-Healing Led Her To True Love
Shelah's call for Black women? Listen to yourself. Honor your pain. Allow yourself to heal. Allow yourself to be connected and feel supported from within.
If you're starting out on the journey, Shelah recommends finding a therapist that caters to your needs, listening to guided meditations like The Meditation Mixtape by Shelah Marie, and filling yourself with knowledge. The books that aided her include A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson, Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping, and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
If she really wanted to focus on healing, Shelah knew that she'd have to be radical in how she invested in her learning and the expectations she set for those she surrounded herself with. "My healing was my job, and it still is. Everyone in my [tribe] knows this. Anyone I can keep around...if they are not actively healing, they will be phased out of [my life.]"
Shelah's healing journey allowed her to embrace the unknown when it unexpectedly appeared. She was new to loving herself and having standards in a relationship, when she met her now-husband Ace Hood, a few years ago in New York City. Upon first meeting him after an invite to a New York club during All-Star Weekend, Shelah knew there was something special.
"He was in the back. There were all these women and celebrities around him. [Ace] saw me and parted the divider and went, 'Shelah, hi! I love your videos on Instagram and you're so funny.' He had this big smile and his eyes lit up. I said to myself, 'I'm fucked. If I'm not supposed to go for it, I'm going for it. I don't care what happens.'"
As with any relationship, it didn't come without challenges – especially in the beginning. Though Ace was attracted to her personality and who she was – the two had to learn to coexist and understand their two very different worlds.
"I struggled for a while trying to fit a circle in a square peg and tried to make myself into what I thought a rapper's girlfriend should be. That didn't last long. [I had to understand that] this is who I am. I'm Shelah. This is me."
Though people had questions about how their relationship would work, Shelah emphasized the notion that you can redefine yourself and humans are layered individuals. When Ace became interested in learning more about the benefits of yoga, the two decided to go on a journey together. She saw something in Ace and knew that they could help each other become the best versions of themselves.
Even if you're not in a relationship and find yourself longing for companionship from a partner, Shelah reminds us not to wallow in self-pity. "When I was in NY [before meeting Ace], I was single and depressed. I had to be proactive about the feelings I wanted [and] I'd fuse that into my meditations. Do not leave it in the hands of someone else to provide you with what you need. Date yourself. Do nice things. Look good for yourself! Sometimes I'd get sad [or jealous], but I'd remind myself, 'Man, I feel so supported. I feel so loved.'"
Photo Credit: Latoya Osborne
Courtesy of Shelah Marie
"I had to be proactive about the feelings I wanted [and] I'd fuse that into my meditations. Do not leave it in the hands of someone else to provide you with what you need."
A Call To Black Women & Their Healing
Helping other women of color heal has been the core of Shelah's personal mission and her recent entrepreneurial pursuits as well. She mentions, "As that little Shelah [experienced], I wanted to create something that I never saw. With Curvy, Curly, Conscious, I was responding to what was being given to me. My Instagram started to grow. I did an event, it was a success. Four-city tour, success. Black women believed in me. I needed to keep giving them more. I wanted to produce high-quality, high-level beautiful experiences for Black women to heal and commune with each other because I believe we deserve it. Black women deserve beauty. It reaffirms our humanity."
However, Shelah again found herself having to confront deep fears and insecurities that would have stunted her ability to deliver on her promise.
"The biggest challenges as an entrepreneur have been overcoming all of my individual fears. You know how much courage it takes to take people's hard-earned money in advance for something? You have to deliver. I wasn't a business person. My background was in acting. I had to invite people in [such as bookkeepers to help me.] I had to [overcome] my own fears about not being good enough and not knowing enough."
For others looking to build a brand in the self-help space, Shelah notes that investigating your personal strength is a must.
"What skills do you have that everyone goes, 'How do you do that?' A lot of people try to copy and emulate. The reason my account grew was because my strong suit is sharing my story and talking. You don't have to have a big following to have a big business. Find your zone of genius and follow that. Just because social media is poppin, doesn't mean everyone has to have a page that's popping. Follow what you're good at."
When remembering where this journey all started, Shelah had some words she'd tell her younger self, the little girl struggling to figure out her story. "You're doing great. You're doing really well. It's fine."
For those of us also navigating the fluid waters of nurturing self-love, Shelah says, "We live in a society that is extremely driven. There's a little window into everyone else's life now. There's Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes it looks like everyone is moving at 100mph and you're just moving slow. Don't watch what everyone else is doing. You are doing fine, too."
Our self-love journeys are not monolithic, but one thing is true for us all: Growth is possible.
For more of Shelah, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image by Latoya Osborne
Originally published on February 13, 2019
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Rana Campbell is a Princeton University graduate, storyteller, content marketing strategist, and the founder and host of Dreams In Drive - a weekly podcast that teaches you how to take your dreams from PARK to DRIVE. She loves teaching others how to use their life stories to inspire action within oneself and others. Connect with her on Instagram @rainshineluv or @dreamsindrive.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
2023 has become the year of celebrity breakups with headlines breaking left and right about celebs filing for divorce or ending high-profile relationships. The latest couple to announce their dissolution? British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. TMZ reported that Jodie has filed for a divorce from her husband, Dawson Creek alum Joshua Jackson.
As far as her reason for calling it quits, Jodie cited "irreconcilable differences," according to TMZ, and has requested joint custody of the couple's daughter, Juno Rose Diana Jackson. Late last year there were rumblings of there being "trouble in paradise" for the couple after the media realized they were no longer following each other on Instagram.
Those rumors were more than laid to rest when Jodie and Joshua went to the 2023 Oscars together earlier this year, and even more recently, when they celebrated her birthday together last month during the September unveiling of the Lotus Emeya.
Jodie Turner-Smith celebrates her birthday with husband Joshua Jackson at the unveiling of the new fully-electric Lotus Emeya on September 07, 2023 in New York City.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Lotus
Despite seeming particularly happy and in love, perhaps the writing was already written on the wall even then. In the past, Jodie has been very celebratory publicly about her love for her estranged husband, even boldly recounting their love story for the books in a 2021 interview with Seth Meyers.
When Jodie and Joshua met, it was while at his birthday party in 2018. Their relationship was hot and heavy from the start, with Jodie openly noting that they began as a "one-night stand." During her 2021 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly referred to their love story as a "three-year one-night stand." She shared:
"First of all, I saw him before he saw me and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that.' And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him. He had to yell across the room to me, and I was wearing this T-shirt from a movie called Sorry to Bother You and [actress] Tessa Thompson plays a character called Detroit, and she has this T-shirt that says, 'The Future Is Female Ejaculation.'
"And so, he shouts across the room, 'Detroit!' He comes over and… does this really cute, charming thing that he does and just all night -- he just basically followed me around the party."
The couple were together from that moment forth, and even made things "Instagram official" less than two weeks later while on a dinner date. Joshua would later clarify to Insider that the night they met in 2018 was not a 'one-night stand' or a 'three-year one-night stand' like his then-wife joked but instead, it was "technically a three-night stand."
"It was sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now," Joshua continued at the time.
In a July 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Joshua dropped more details about the why behind getting married. He revealed that he didn't know he wanted to get married to Jodie until "the moment she asked me."
"She asked me on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic, we were walking down the beach and she asked me to marry her."
He added, "I did not know [she would propose], but she was quite adamant and she was right. This is the best choice I ever made."
Joshua Jackson Reveals Jodie Turner-Smith Proposed To Him
Jodie received quite a bit of flack for proposing to Joshua because it goes against tradition and what society sees as acceptable for a woman to do to a man, and proposing isn't one of them. No matter how much time has passed, the viewpoints around who should do the proposing and who should be proposed to are still very traditional.
After being on the receiving end of such backlash, Joshua would later clarify to the media in a separate interview that it wasn't just Jodie's proposal to him that sealed the deal of them getting married, he proposed to her too. She might have initiated it, but Joshua followed through.
"I accidentally threw my wife under the bus because that story was told quickly and it didn't give the full context and holy Jesus, the internet is racist and misogynist," he explained to Refinery29 that same year. "We were in Nicaragua on a beautiful moonlit night, it could not possibly have been more romantic."
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
He continued, "And yes, my wife did propose to me and yes, I did say yes, but what I didn't say in that interview was there was a caveat, which is that I'm still old school enough that I said, 'This is a yes, but you have to give me the opportunity [to do it too].'"
"She has a biological father and a stepdad, who's the man who raised her. [I said], 'You have to give me the opportunity to ask both of those men for your hand in marriage.' And then, 'I would like the opportunity to re-propose to you and do it the old-fashioned way down on bended knee.' So, that's actually how the story ended up."
Joshua and Jodie would eventually marry in December 2019. Shortly thereafter, Jodie gave birth to the couple's first child, Janie, in 2020.
In a recent interview with Elle UK, Jodie shared the ways becoming a mother to Juno helped to heal her of her wounds from colorism she experienced in the past. "It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world," Jodie shared with the outlet.
She continued, "Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. I did have this mini pause, where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by.' Now that I've got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I've been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colorism."
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Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images