A secret about me?
I can maybe, quite possibly, occasionally hog the bathroom.
Everyone who knows me well is going to read this and be like, “yeah…”
I laugh writing this, (I also love this gif of Oprah), although, in all seriousness, it really is like my sanctuary. It’s where I get ready for my day, from getting dressed to my skincare routines, and I enjoy it.
For me, it's like, everything. It's a steam room, it's a sauna, on occasion I've fallen asleep in there (don't ask just let me share), and it's where I do my three to eight-step facial routines, my makeup, and get dressed. So, it's pretty much a spa.
Yeah, exactly. My bathroom is my spa.
I totally know this is going to sound crazy to some, but I'm really not even lying to you; my time in that room is my "me-time." It’s the time I spend in reflection. It’s the time I spend with my thoughts. It’s also the time I spend purely with myself and I’ve always liked that. I’ve always liked having minutes that are purely mine—of me doing just for me.
“Self-care” is in the dictionary, and Merriam Webster defines the noun as “care for oneself.”
I like Google’s definition a bit better.
It’s, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.”
Understanding your skin; your body—connecting with yourself through your beauty routines or your style and dress, that’s an act of self-care, of self-love.
Fashion and beauty are both personal. Yes, we can follow trends and yes, we can recreate looks but at both of their cores, fashion and beauty regimes are for us. They are ours. They belong solely to us because no one puts on my clothes for me. No one can tell me what to do with my products. No one can tell me how to beat my face.
I do a lot in there, my bathroom, and anyone who knows me can attest. While I do my skincare or my makeup, I play music or frequencies—this one is one of my favorites—and speak affirmations to myself.
I have this one right here, this affirmation, that I repeat to myself constantly: “Louder and more beautiful.”
I don’t know why it works but it does. It gets me out of my head and back into myself. It reminds me that my voice matters. It reminds me that the only thing I need is myself before anything else—before anyone else, before all of this. It reminds me that I am enough. Just me, staring at me, in my bathroom…I am enough.
That's another great affirmation: "I am enough."
These are things I have to remind myself of daily. These are the ways in which fashion and beauty are acts of self-love for me because if there’s anything that being a woman has taught me, it is that we take our bodies very seriously, whether or not they belong to us or we belong to them.
We love ourselves through what we do with them—be it beauty regimes like skincare or makeup, grooming habits like haircuts and waxes, or fitness routines and diets—whatever we choose to focus on. Whatever we prioritize for ourselves, and our bodies must cope with expectations and pressures of every day: how it should look, how it should behave, and what it should do.
I know I’m not alone in this daily struggle to understand what my body wants or needs because the dialogue surrounding beauty is prevalent everywhere: fashion magazines, lifestyle magazines, social media feeds. It’s all about skin and hair and nails, dieting tips, and workout regimes with “before” photos that show you how bad your body looks before you made it better because we love a success story, right?
But why is the “before” not successful, still? We live in a society where only two options exist: good or bad, and we hate being lumped into anything considered "bad;" anything considered ugly; anything undesirable. And yet, just having a body is good, right? Or at least, shouldn’t it be?
It's like we're always told that we need to be someone else—that there's a certain standard we have to meet just because our bodies are different from those of our friends, families, or, in this day and age, influencers.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and we live in a world where we are constantly comparing. There is always something that suggests that our beautiful, natural bodies simply don't look perfect enough. We are told to hide our flaws—our body hair, fine lines, acne scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, freckles, birthmarks, or loose skin (you know what I'm talking about because the list can continue). We’re told to make others think we have it all under control and despite our desire for perfection, it’s a “thing” to promote still that we like ourselves the way we are—because no one wants to be called out for not loving themselves.
Like, can you win?
I think right now, there is a lot of noise. We’re living in a time when so much is going on. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has access to the internet. Everyone has access to everyone.
Our senses of comfort and freedom seem to be constantly fluctuating recently, and the uncertainties that have come with the disruption of these simple liberties are a lot. Never mind the fact that with social media, we live in a simulation of comparison. What everyone else is doing always seems better. It always seems like other people are living the lives we'd like to. It always seems like someone is telling us how we can be better, or why we should work harder. I don't think anybody can argue how cruel social media is to women, especially when advertisers find loopholes so posts reach teens and young women about certain mentally (and sometimes physically) damaging products without violating rules. It’s an onslaught. With enough money, you can make yourself look naturally perfect all the time; but what happens to those who don’t have access to such resources? Why are women sometimes so hard on themselves when they see someone with fairer skin or more defined features? I’m back on my soapbox again. Comparison and mental health are inextricably linked.
All of us know that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being more confident and feeling good about yourself, but it seems like loving yourself based on your appearance is somehow a two-way street—and none of us want to be left out in the dark.
So, here's why I think we need to talk about body positivity and self-care for real:
Because any change starts with one person trying their hardest, and that, in itself should be celebrated.
Because we are being bombarded with messages telling us what's good and bad instead of encouraging each other to appreciate our own uniqueness; and because everyone else's standard is just that—other people’s standards—they are not rules to follow.
Because there's only one you in this world, and there will never be another you again. Like, think about that. Seriously. No two people are alike. No two paths are the same. Why should we ever think that beauty is, or should be, like anyone else’s?
Because even if your hair doesn't grow out or your skin isn't bright enough to be an advertisement model's—who often don’t even look like the ads anyway because *ahem, PhotoShop—there are more than enough reasons to love yourself and what you have.
Because sometimes, others need an example. Sometimes, people need a little bit of help seeing how beautiful they actually are on the inside even if their outsides aren't as perfect as they would like them to be, and sometimes, people need someone to show them how to do just that.
And since I’m still standing on this soapbox, let’s start celebrating our differences. Let’s start embracing ourselves. Let’s start speaking loving words to ourselves. Let's start speaking loving words to each other.
Hence, why I bring us back to my bathroom: my place of calm. Because it's so easy to become overwhelmed. It’s so easy for outside stimuli to send our nervous systems into hyperdrive.
Just recently, I was featured in ShoutoutLA, and amidst other topics, this was one I discussed. We often find ourselves caught in a loop of overdoing, overthinking, overworking. We’re bombarded by images on the news or social media and get caught up in the rat race to have an Instagram-worthy life, or flawless skin, for example, and then it becomes a chore. We start thinking that we're not doing what we want if we're not going to parties or living the much talked about #instagramlife.
We need to understand that this beautiful life we live is made up of our choices. It really comes down to what you think your life should be like—what are those series of events that make you happy? There's so much more out there than photos on social media, yet people often compare their worst moments with the best ones of others. What would happen if you stopped making comparisons? What if you started appreciating every single moment and living your life without these thoughts clouding your mind? I know it sounds difficult (especially since that's our natural state of being thanks to society), but the truth is, you can do it. You can detox. You can disconnect from social sites. You can just be.
And I say this because I’m practicing it. I’m trying to put these ideas into my daily routine without taking days off. I’m trying to disconnect more because I realize very clearly in this time of all that 2020 and 2021 have brought that many of us have had to learn how to love ourselves and allow this new lifestyle to truly become a part of you. When self-love becomes who you are rather than just what you practice, then that's when the game changes. That's when everyone will see just how amazing it looks from the outside too. This isn't about perfection; it's about making mistakes and growing through them—just like every other human on this planet.
So, we're back at square one: Loving yourself is the key because nobody else knows exactly what that is for you. No one but you knows what it is that will make you feel good.
It’s important to slow down. Because I am also guilty of hyperactive brain activity and obsessive thoughts. And isn’t that one of the greatest levels of spiritual and self-mastery? The ability to silence the mind?
Working on it.
Meditation is good for that, and I’ve come to appreciate the practice because it’s really just that—practice. And it’s different for everyone; it always will be. And it’s really about bringing your awareness back to yourself. Back to your breath.
Beauty is good for that.
For me, beauty is good for that.
Meditation and mindfulness are like blankets and rainy days—they go hand in hand. Why even mention one without the other?
My beauty routine has become one of those moments. It’s become a time for me. It’s become a time of pure awareness. It’s Tahirah and her thoughts. It’s Tahirah controlling her thoughts. It’s Tahirah staring into her own eyes. It’s Tahirah feeling her skin. It’s Tahirah self-soothing. It’s Tahirah talking to Tahirah. It’s Tahirah with Tahirah devoting attention only to Tahirah.
I think there’s so much magic in that. I think there’s magic in moments like these. I think we wield an incredible power over our lives that begins with our perception of things. I get it—for some, their morning facial wash is just that. For others, their time in front of the mirror getting dressed or putting on clothes is just that, too. But I love these times, mostly because I am fully present when I’m working through the steps of my facial routine, or doing my makeup, or choosing my outfits. Because not only are these moments for me to tune into me, but I’m in my own energy. I’m creating. I’m being creative. I’m acting for me and manifesting results with mediums I love. I’m in my flow. I’m acting in my own divinity. I am fully embracing my relationship with myself.
Try that the next time you’re starting your day. Try to embrace your morning routine and see it as your conversation with yourself—with moments you get to spend with yourself. Try to simply be, and really try to enjoy it.