Feminism and Wellness

As some of you may know, I’m currently serving as the Special Events Coordinator for the Feminist Art Project-Baltimore (TFAP-B).  We’re a regional chapter of an international non-profit arts organization which aims to be inclusive; supporting local, self-identified female artists, as well as men, who recognize and promote Baltimore area women in the arts. 

You can read a little more about us in my blog post from last year

We’ve recently launched our first and only fundraiser on Indiegogo so we can continue to provide free artistic and cultural programs for Baltimore communities.  Take a second and check out our little video, it involves reading feminist literature to cats.

As part of our ask video, we all spent some time thinking about why we originally joined TFAP-B, and what keeps each of us donating our time and energy to the group.  What’s our personal story? 

I feel like there are so many reasons really.  I was lucky enough to be raised by a feminist, and I always saw the need for groups like this.  According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 51% of visual artists today are women, but when 8 major museums were surveyed, only 28% of solo exhibitions spotlighted women.  Though women earn half of the MFAs granted in the US, only a quarter of solo exhibitions in New York galleries feature women.

In the United States, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

And in terms of wellness, women are often put down as “hysterical” or “crazy” for expressing our emotions and thoughts. We live in a culture that praises women who put other’s needs before their own.  We’re taught that we need to care for everyone else first, and then we get whatever is leftover.  Short term, this leads to burnout, fatigue, and to stress-related disorders.  Long term, this stress can lead to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, infertility, and it can speed up the aging process.

I talk about self-care all the time.  It’s easily one of my favorite subjects in wellness, partially because it’s essential but so many people (men and women alike) don’t do it.  Putting your own health, wellness, and needs first is viewed as selfish.

I call bullshit.

I think women (and men) need to start putting themselves first.  It’s like the safety presentation on airplanes.  Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting a child (or whoever).  You have care for yourself first, so that you can be fully present to take care of others.  I feel like RuPaul’s quote about self-love could easily be about self care.

Cause if you don’t take care of yourself, how in the hell you gonna take care of someone else?

Today I challenge you to put yourself first.  What is it that you need?  Some extra sleep? A green juice? Time to vent?  A hug?  A glass of wine and a good book?

Do it, and own it.  Don’t be ashamed of what you need to do to take care of YOU.

Can I get an amen?