Black Woman Owned is a limited series highlighting black woman business owners who are change-makers and risk-takers in their respective realms. As founders, these women dare to be bold, have courage in being the change they wish to see in the world, and are unapologetic when it comes to their vision. These black women aren't waiting for a seat, they are owning the table.
In this life, there's work that we choose to pursue and work that chooses us. For Yasmine Jameelah, founder of Transparent Black Girl, this work was brought on by pain, growth, and healing that empowered her to take wellness into her own hands.
It was in the early stages of college that Yasmine experienced this shift. Pulled by the incarceration of her father while experiencing abuse in a relationship and deep depression, her world was flipped upside-down. Although Yasmine didn't have the language to self-declare these hurdles as the catalyst to her wellness journey, there was one thing she knew for certain, "I needed to get my sh*t together and I wanted better for myself," she says.
Photo by Camille Shaw
Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah
Better came wrapped in the form of therapy. She started documenting this journey on her personal blog, Meant to Be Yasmine, where she opened up about her experience in therapy and holistic weight loss with her community. Through this exchange, she noticed a common thread in how her readers would relate to her stories. "They'd always say, 'I love how you're so transparent.' It was just everyone's favorite word to describe me."
Once she noticed this communal response, it became clear that the work Yasmine was pursuing was beckoning her to expand. Soon, she realized that her lone place for healing was in purpose to honor Black women and their journey to become who they were meant to be. "I wanted to do something bigger for more than just myself." Funny how God interprets our plans.
When Yasmine started her digital community, Transparent Black Girl, the small but mighty tribe was made up of 300 followers. At the time, social media was in a shift where positive content was resonating more, and Yasmine took notice. "I just started to post these memes like, 'Me: alkaline water, my flourishing bank account, consistent men, my grandmother's prayers,'" and it caught fire. After a viral post, the platform skyrocketed in its following, and it was at that moment that Yasmine knew she had something special and timely on her hands.
Today, Yasmine is on a mission to empower Black women and men to define their wellness journey on their own terms via a wellness collective called Transparent + Black. The space is unique in that it offers an accessible and equitable ecosystem for Black people to heal. As Yasmine puts it, "With trauma, it's important to address that there's no collective healing unless we address the collective trauma that we all share as a people."
For decades, society has given Black folks molds to fit into in order to belong in certain spaces, but when it comes to mental health and intergenerational healing, Yasmine's purpose is clear, "Wellness is as multi-faceted as we are."
Photo by Camille Shaw
Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah
xoNecole: You’ve mentioned that “you didn’t find wellness, wellness found you.” Take us back to that season. Where was Yasmine when wellness found her?
Yasmine Jameelah: The older I get, the more I realize that, in many ways, wellness was always inside of me. When I turned 18, I hit a really deep depression. My father went to prison, I gained over 100 pounds, and I was extremely depressed. And while most people spend their first few years of college having the time of their life and having all of this fun, I spent the first few years of college isolated. On the weekend when my friends would be going out to clubs, I was visiting my father in jail. While that was happening, I found myself in a really abusive relationship, and to say the least, my life was a hot mess.
What changed everything for me was therapy. I decided that I just wasn't happy anymore and at that point, I didn't really have the language to be like, 'This is a wellness journey.' I just felt like I needed to get my sh*t together and I wanted better for myself. I finally decided that I was going to leave the [abusive] relationship and go to therapy. I found a therapist and that opened up so many doors for me.
Why was it important for you to place an emphasis on transparency, not only for yourself but for the women who make up the Transparent Black Girl collective?
I'm like a real-life transparent Black girl, so if anything, I think that this space has allowed me to be comfortable in that. Since I was a kid, I always felt like I shared too much, so this has been a space where I have felt power in owning every part of who I am. While I am transparent, the older I've gotten, I have become more selective about who I share with and even how I share. The days of me being a blogger and talking about so much, I don't even share to that magnitude anymore. But there is still so much vulnerability that goes into what I share with our followers and with the women that we meet when we have events in real life.
How have you found power in your transparency?
I just feel like it's given me confirmation that God made me the way that I am for a reason. I used to feel embarrassed about being so transparent. I used to wish I could be like people who were super-selective and who didn't share their feelings and weren't open books. But I think redefining Black wellness and owning who you are is a part of wellness. I went from being really embarrassed about being such a sharer to finding a lot of strength in it. The goal is to remind yourself that being a Transparent Black Girl is to allow yourself not to shrink, own who you are as a woman, embrace your inner child, and know that there's a healer in all of us.
"For one Black woman, [wellness] can be you aligning your chakras and getting into tarot cards. For another, it may be you going to church, driving the boat occasionally, and going swimming—like myself. It's important that we honor all those experiences and not make it seem like one is better than the other."
Photo by Camille Shaw
Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah
The work you do can be heavy at times. How have you been able to find joy while balancing what you do in this space?
Although these conversations can be heavy, there are so many beautiful opportunities that you can find to heal from trauma and there is so much joy that you can experience along the way. I have recently decided that I was going to own traumatic experiences, and while they are painful, there are so many happy moments that can occur because of them. For example, because of my weight fluctuating and having so many years where I did not feel comfortable in my body, I find so much joy in twerking, owning my sexuality, and having fun trying on different clothes. That is a joyful experience for me.
At TBG, we talk about all aspects of wellness and one of those things is Black joy. One day that can look like me going out with my friends to do yoga, but it can also look like driving the boat. So just understanding that this idea that wellness is always this meditative experience, it's just not true, at least not for me. I feel like we often believe that when we have lifestyle changes that everything has to change, and I'm just like Nah, I'm always going to have balance. I'm so grateful that our community has also leaned into that too, just understanding that this is not always going to be this super meditative experience all the time and that we're going to have fun and tend to ourselves. That might look like matcha in the morning and D'usse in the evening, and that's totally fine.
In the three years that you’ve been pursuing collective healing through Transparent Black Girl, how have you been able to redefine wellness for yourself?
I think duality is so important. When I first got into the wellness space, I was seeing women that were in the space, and, while they were doing beautiful work, all I saw them posting about was meditation, and I was like, 'I don't know if this speaks to me.' Even in terms of wellness, from the get-go, it's a very white-washed space. Because it is, we don't always feel seen and accepted. It felt like I was diminishing myself just to fit in, and I decided that I was going to have confidence and lean into owning all of the facets of who I am.
Even that was a healing experience within itself: to know that I am just as transparent as I am reserved. I find joy in the fact that I am just as confident as I am unsure about myself. That I am just as brave as I am afraid of things when times change. It's been such a beautiful journey to know that I don't have to filter any parts of my personality or how I show up in the world to receive God's best for me.
Last year was such a tumultuous one, one that served a great purpose, but left a lot of us fatigued socially, politically, and mentally. In that, how has your approach to Transparent Black Girl shifted?
It taught me two things and that was one, while I was building this space, I was not doing as good of a job taking care of myself in the process. While I thought I was doing a good job taking care of myself, being at home during the pandemic showed me that I really needed to double down on my self-care and be really unapologetic with it. I've been doing my best to pour into me first. It's a journey, but I'm definitely getting more confident in that.
I'd also say that in tandem, while I have learned to take care of myself more, I have also learned how to dream bigger. This last year was really difficult, and I felt at times, as a single woman and spending most of my time within the four walls of my room, I felt really isolated, but I also felt really affirmed. If I made it out of this year and made it out of all of the feelings that I was experiencing, it was for a reason. And once I collected myself, it was OK to dream more and that I could have clarity about what I was building.
"I am just as transparent as I am reserved. I find joy in the fact that I am just as confident as I am unsure about myself—that I am just as brave as I am afraid of things when times change."
Photo by Camille Shaw
Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah
How has swimming played a role in your healing and self-care practices?
I have loved to swim ever since I was a kid. I started to swim when I was about six or seven years old. My dad was really adamant about me learning to swim and just doing stuff that they said Black people couldn't do. While that was happening, I actually had a cousin the same age as me who drowned and pass away at the Jersey shore. When I got older and started to feel self-conscious about my body, I stopped swimming for a long time. I didn't swim again for over a decade.
When I got to college, I gained weight and was trying to lose it, and I injured my knee, so I had no other choice but to swim. My physical therapist and personal trainer were like, "You should swim." I still had this fear of people judging me because of the trauma that I experienced as a kid. When I started to swim again, I fell in love with it all over again. And I swim now more than I ever have. Not only did it help me lose weight, it became this beautiful experience, like another form of therapy. It's my favorite thing to do for myself. When I'm not swimming, I don't feel like myself.
Your collective, Black + Transparent, looks to address the Black community’s needs to cope with intergenerational trauma. How were you able to tackle this fear in your own journey?
There are so many layers of the trauma that we have but there are three things that, in terms of intergenerational trauma, have kept us at risk of certain things. [One] is access to doulas, as a result of slavery. If you look back in terms of doula work, how Black women are treated in hospitals, and how midwifery is still illegal in certain states, Black women were no longer allowed to practice. Also, so many Black people still don't know how to swim, and in terms of mental health services, we are still at risk more than anyone else.
When it came to deciding what I wanted to build, looking at all three of those experiences, those are three things that we are still suffering from. So I wanted to make sure that in building a wellness space for Black people that it was rooted in the real work that we desired to address. Also, [it was important to] collaborate with intergenerational trauma therapists who are open to working with families and making sure that we're able to be just as transparent with our families as we are with ourselves and our own personal wellness journeys.
"Wellness is a very personal experience. Nobody can tell you how to be well for you, but you."
Photo by Camille Shaw
Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah
What would you say to someone who is looking to create their own space of healing, whether through a collective or even therapy, but might be a little hesitant to start?
First, you need to know that you are worthy, even if you are in the lowest place in your life right now. I truly believe that I knew that I deserved wellness when I was deep into depression and contemplating suicide because I knew that I deserved better. That in itself is an act of wellness: knowing that you deserve better than your current circumstance. I would say that you're already on the journey if you know that whatever bottom you're in right now, you know that's not meant for you. Also, be patient with yourself. Know that while there are so many wonderful resources we can use, wellness is a very personal experience. Nobody can tell you how to be well for you, but you.
Featured image by Camille Shaw
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
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.
If the recurring strikes and scandals didn't give you an inkling of how seedy the entertainment industry can be, surely you can look to stories of former child stars whose fame of yesteryears can, at times, be a source of the conflict and inner turmoil they encounter today. While some child stars were able to keep riding the Hollywood wave to new levels and heights in a decades-spanning career, some found success occupying other lanes like retail, and some still look to the past as if it were yesterday with heavy regret due to the career that could have, or even should have, been.
Tiffany Evans' claim to fame happened early on in her childhood as her powerhouse vocals caught the attention of many during her time as a contestant on Star Search in 2003. At the time, she wasn't even 12, but she was racking up perfect scores with every performance, a competition first. Unsurprisingly, she scored a record deal shortly thereafter. Tiffany would go on to release her self-titled debut album in 2008 with singles like "I'm Grown" and perhaps her biggest hit, "Promise Ring," which featured Ciara. In 2005, she also had a minor role in the Tyler Perry film Diary of a Mad Black Woman.
Two decades later, Tiffany is now reminiscing on being able to spend her childhood years doing something she loved but regrettably having "nothing to show for it" as an adult, all due to greed and because the industry will either lift you up or spit you out.
Recently, an Instagram post published by The Neighborhood Talk shared a comment Tiffany left on the Instagram account @flyandfamousblackgirls regarding her experience with childhood fame. The post she commented on was a picture of herself from February 2003, when she appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The comment she left felt like an open letter to her inner child. In it, she recounted manipulation, missed opportunities, and abuse she encountered during that time.
"If I knew then what I know now I would have done things differently. I wish I could've changed so much that was going around this little girl. Everybody took from me. All of the hard earned money I made. The work I put in. They took from me, ruined some relationships in this business for me, squandered some opportunities that if you guys knew about it, you would've wanted to get it back in blood for me.
"I spent years doing something that I love, to become an adult and have nothing to show for it. It bothers my mental a lot some time. The ones who know the truth, really know... from a teenager to my adult years I went out looking for love in wrong places, was manipulated, and terribly abused."
Tiffany then expressed that her journey to where she's grown to since her time in the limelight brought her beauty that she has so much gratitude for. Since music will always be a priority for her, what she has been through doesn't stop her from wanting to see her career go further than it was allowed to go in the past.
Her comment continued, "Out of that kind of life I gained beautiful children, I met my soulmate but I really want to see what I worked so hard for all my childhood finally come to life! And I love music so I'm really working at it still y'all. I trust the Lord. Thank you for always rooting for me love y'all!"
"Please keep rooting for me." Tiffany ended her comment, prompting people to follow her music page. "we're dropping music together and some solo stuff soon too."
We're always rooting for you, Tiffany!
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Featured image by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images