I’m sure you have heard this phrase countless times. You’ve read it in magazines or on blogs. You’ve used it as a hashtag under one of your more meaningful posts on social media. “Love yourself,” they tell you. Isn’t it interesting how society tells us to love ourselves, to accept ourselves just as we are, all whilst pedaling images, products, and campaigns that convey the message that no matter how hard we try, we still aren’t as good as we could be?
We say that we love ourselves. I know I do. We take care of our coils, ensure that our nails are manicured, lather our bodies in coconut oil, go to the gym at least four times a week, shop at our local farmer’s market, eat our fruits and vegetables, keep our bodies hydrated, mind our business, stay woke, and this means that we love ourselves…doesn’t it? But what if self-love is less about what we do and more about who we are? What if we radically accepted that perhaps we aren’t who or what we want to be just yet, but that we are enough just as we are right now?
Thankfully, there’s someone out there who understands this ongoing plight that we as women face practically every single day. If ever self-love needed a curly-haired, glo-gettin’, Yoni egg poppin’, curve huggin’, down-to-Mars soul sis as the face of its campaign, then Shelah Marie would be that someone.
Self-love is a journey, not a destination, but it gets better and better.
Shelah Marie is the creator and founder of Curvy, Curly, Conscious, which is described as “an experience that focuses on promoting self-love, personal development, meditation, and physical wellness.” Shelah is an actress by trade, but after struggling with severe depression and anxiety while pursuing an acting career, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance that sparked a movement across social media, known as Curvy, Curly, Conscious (or CCC, for short).
I had the pleasure of discussing meditation, yoga, and actualizing self-love with Ms. Shelah. Check out our chat below:
Bri: What inspired a movement like Curvy, Curly, Conscious?
Shelah: I’m an actress by trade; that’s what I’m trained in and what I’ve done for most of my life. I was in New York, pursuing acting, and just was really struggling with severe depression and anxiety beneath the surface. So, I looked for many things that would help with that, and one of the things that really helped the most was meditation. I started sharing my ideas about meditation and self-love on Instagram, and when I saw how many women…I felt so alone at first and thought that there was something wrong with me, but then, when I started sharing it online, I found that this was something that affects so many women of color – women across the board – but it definitely affects women on color in a particular way, so that was the moment where I was like, “I have to keep going with this.”
Self-love is a radical self-acceptance. So, it means accepting yourself and your life exactly as it is right now without any disclaimers.
Bri: Curvy, Curly, Conscious is described as a platform for self-love, personal development, meditation, and physical wellness, and we hear that term “self-love” or the phrase “love yourself” often, but I’m not sure how much we talk about what that means and what it entails. In your own words, how would you define self-love?
Shelah: I would say, first, that self-love is a radical self-acceptance. So, it means accepting yourself and your life exactly as it is right now without any disclaimers. So, a lot of the time, when we talk about self-love, loving yourself, or loving others, we say, “Well, I love myself when I do the right things,” “I love myself when I make it to the gym,” or “I love my partner when they do XYZ,” but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about radical self-acceptance, which is that you accept yourself no matter what it looks like with the understanding that you can’t change what you don’t first accept. So, if you reject yourself, then you’re never going to evolve. So, for me, self-love is really acceptance at the end of the day.
I felt so alone at first and thought that there was something wrong with me – it was ridiculous – but then, when I started sharing it online, I found that this was affecting so many women of color – women across the board – but it definitely affects women of color in a particular way. So, that was the moment when I was like, “I have to keep going with this.”
Bri: Based upon your personal journey, your journey of discovering and accepting yourself, and what you describe as being self-love for you, what tips or suggestions would you offer to women for realizing or actualizing that kind of self-love.
Shelah: I love meditation for that because I think that meditation helps you to become friends with yourself. When I started practicing meditation, I began to hear my voice and the things that I was saying to myself, and I started to change the things that I was saying to myself. It was a relationship with myself; it was like me talking to me, so I love meditation for that because meditation can help you to actually and tangibly build a relationship with yourself, and I also love affirmations, and then being mindful of the people that you keep around you. So, if there’s anyone around you that tears you down or that is unhappy when you fall, or they’re criticizing you too harshly, I always vote for creating healthy boundaries with those people as much as you can.
Meditation helps you to become friends with yourself.
Bri: Well, I actually started practicing meditation because of you, and meditation has now become apart of my nightly routine. However, the thing that I’ve found – especially in the black community – is that we sort of have this taboo when it comes to meditation. What do you say to people who feel as though meditation is a taboo or that it isn’t “something that black people do?”
Shelah: I find that very interesting that people would even consider meditation taboo or that people would say that black people don’t meditate because I would say, “What? Black people don’t sit in silence?” Meditation to me is like anything else, right? It’s like eating chicken. If someone asks you, “Do you eat chicken?” then you might say, “Well, that depends on how it’s prepared.” Meditation is not a one size fits all thing either, and there’s so many types of meditation. There are so many ideologies and methodologies across the board, when I think of meditation, I just think of sitting with yourself. Why don’t black people deserve the opportunity to sit with themselves and get to know themselves? We, of course, are human like everyone else. Then, when it comes to the taboo thing, I do encounter people who ask me, “Is yoga from the devil?” or “Meditation against the Bible?” The term meditation is not even used in schools a lot; they refer to it instead as mindfulness. So, people are afraid of meditation because they associate it with Eastern religion, and I say take all of those assumptions and judgments out of it. Meditation is simply getting quiet with yourself, and everyone should and can do that.
I started before I was ready, as I do with most things in my life – I start before I’m ready to.
Bri: One thing that I admire about the CCC movement is that you promote body positivity and having a healthy relationship, not only with my inner being, but with my physical being as well. How did you arrive to the place of, “Hey, I love my curves. I embrace my stretch marks?”
Shelah: Well, I started before I was ready, which for me was taking pictures of myself and posting them on my Instagram. It was that simple for me. It was like, you know what? All I do is sit up here and talk about how fat I am or how I wish I was slimmer or how I wish I had a smaller butt, and I began to tell myself, “No, Shelah. No.” So, I started wearing make-up, getting cute, and posting pictures of myself, and I don’t even know if I really knew what I was doing then, but I knew that I was tired of being in silence. I was tired of covering up. So, I really made a step before I was ready and said, “This is what I look like right now. Like it or leave it.” From there, the affirmation that I got from women sort of helped me to love myself more. I didn’t love myself first and then do it, but I was looking for ways to love myself more. And I also think it’s not a destination but rather a journey. It’s a process, but it gets better and better.
If you’ve instantaneously fallen in love with Shelah as I did upon first discovering her #blackgirlmagic and can’t seemingly get enough of her, then you will be happy to know that Curvy, Curly, Conscious is currently on tour! After a sold-out success in Miami and Chicago, Shelah and her team are making their way to Atlanta (August 20th) and Los Angeles (September 17). You can purchase your tickets and register for this phenomenal self-love day party by clicking right here to visit Curvy, Curly, Conscious online! For all of my Atlanta babes, I hope to see you on August 20th!
To learn more about Shelah Marie, you can visit her personal brand site at The Shelah Marie or learn more about her self-love movement by visiting Curvy, Curly, Conscious. You can also keep up Shelah via Instagram at @theshelahmarie and subscribe to her YouTube channel to tune into her #SoulStudySundays!
Until next time, sis, remember to LOVE YO’SELF!