Grays, gravity and belly bulge can take a toll on any woman’s self-esteem. It’s bad enough that society tells us our sex appeal has an expiration date. But when we don’t like what we see in the mirror, confidence can be hard to come by.
I’m speaking from experience. I’m not immune to any of those influences, and I should mention I’m also a breast cancer survivor. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can trigger all types of body image issues. But a few months ago, I found help in a surprising place: YouTube!
I have Tia Mowry to thank for this. The Family Reunion actress first won our hearts when she and her twin sister, Tamera Mowry, starred in the hit 1990s sitcom Sister, Sister. Later we loved her in Mara Brock Akil’s The Game.
Mowry also has a series on YouTube called Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix, and I’m a big fan. In a recent video, Mowry shared her self-care routine, which includes restricting time she spends on her phone, meditating daily, reading affirmations, reciting mantras and creating vision boards.
I’m not looking for other people to give me an affirmation, to say you’re sexy or you’re beautiful. I am telling myself that. It’s coming from me.
But she went on to say, “When I am tapping into me and just taking care of me and putting me as a priority when it comes to self-love, I feel sexy.”
And this confidence comes from within.
“I’m not looking for other people to give me an affirmation, to say you’re sexy or you’re beautiful. I am telling myself that,” Mowry said. “It’s coming from me.”
I was intrigued. You see, no matter how often my husband tells me I’m beautiful, if I don’t agree, I can’t walk through my day feeling confident or sexy. So, I decided to give this new attitude a try. I committed to doing one small act of self-care each day and one significant act of self-care each week.
Slow mornings, scented candles and Sade
Self-care is about much more than bubble baths, but that’s a great place to start. Mowry mentioned she enjoys taking bubble baths while listening to Sade, so I gave that a try. As I reclined in the tub, I allowed the warm water and soothing sounds to ease away the worries of the week. Eventually, I found myself tracing with my finger the scars that cancer left behind — lovingly and without judgment — and thanking my body for keeping me alive.
I started buying myself fresh flowers each week, wearing cute dresses even when working from home and lighting my favorite scented candles just because. As I float about in my favorite frock and carefully arrange roses and sunflowers to adorn my home, I feel like the queen of my castle.
Slow mornings are a part of my self-care practice, too. I take time to sip green tea and savor the flavor of every drop. As I smooth on cocoa butter after I shower, I pause to celebrate the silkiness of my thighs.
Now, when my husband calls me sexy, I don’t downplay his comment with a self-deprecating remark. I bask in the compliment because finally I agree. When he gives me a romantic massage, I don’t fret over folds of skin.
My sexy self-care experiment worked. Now, when my husband calls me sexy, I don’t downplay his comment with a self-deprecating remark. I bask in the compliment because finally I agree. When he gives me a romantic massage, I don’t fret over folds of skin.
My mirror and I are having a bit of a love affair, too.
When I’m getting dressed in the morning, I don’t rush past the mirror as I used to. Instead, I linger a bit, no longer feeling the need to hide from my naked body. I stand in the mirror to pay homage to my curves and to relish the richness of my brown skin.
One night I put on teeny-tiny shorts and my favorite Savage X Fenty bra and danced in the mirror to some of my favorite Beyoncé songs.
And speaking of music, “Lights On,” by H.E.R., has become my favorite date-night track.
Self-care and self-confidence are linked
GG Renee Hill, author of the book Self-Care Check-In: A Guided Journal to Build Healthy Habits and Devote Time to You, has long believed that self-care and self-confidence are linked.
“It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re neglecting your own needs,” Hill says.
Hill’s three core self-care practices are journaling, meditation and movement, which is usually walking or yoga.
For me, self-care is also exercising regularly, eating three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day, and following my skin care regimen. And when I focus on caring for my body, not changing it, I can appreciate my body exactly as it is.
Educator, writer and content creator Cherith Fluker uses her blog and social media platforms to encourage busy women to prioritize self-care and be unapologetic about putting themselves first. And she makes sure to practice what she preaches, too. Fluker recently began her natural-hair journey and is rocking a close-cropped do. She credits self-care with giving her the courage to go for the big chop.
Some of Fluker’s favorite self-care practices include regular visits with her dermatologist. She also exercises most days of the week.
“I don’t do it to lose weight,” she says of her workout routine, which includes cardio and strength training. “I’m stronger and I definitely am bolder in one-shoulder tops and swimsuits. Even my kids are like, ‘Mama, those shorts are a little short.’ And I’m like, ‘Look, y’all are grown. Deal with it!’”
Also, I’ve come to realize that, for me at least, feeling sexy goes hand in hand with feeling stress-free. With each moment I take to dote on myself, I not only feel more secure in my own skin, but I also feel calmer and more present. When I can relax, my confidence, as well as my sensuality, overflows. And thanks to radical self-care, I no longer look in the mirror and yearn for the body I had in my 20s or 30s. This is the body that will carry me through the trials and triumphs of this life stage and age, and I will honor and embrace every inch of it.