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These Two Black Authors Are Putting The “Self” Back In Self-Care

Y’all have been “grand rising” me to death this year and clogging the timeline with inspirational quotes. Don’t get me wrong — I love the positive energy behind social media influencers being transparent about their self-care journeys, but the authenticity of it is lost when I see a string of hashtags under a vulnerable post and my head starts to hurt when I look at the price tag for self-care and female empowerment seminars. Social media has cultivated the warped mindset that if you don’t post about everything you do, it never happened. Sadly, we’ve taken that to heart with our self care practices, even though a lot of that work should be done off camera.
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Ultimately, we know that what’s posted on Instagram isn’t always the truth or the full picture. Self-care is more than a media tool to get followers and engagement, and it should not be something you have to share with the outside world. In this process of securing external validation, we forget the privacy that comes with the word self. And aside from faking it to make it online, young Black people have made it their mission to address the pray-it-away mentality many of our parents and grandparents embodied when it came to addressing — or not addressing — their mental health. But the work continues to break those historical impressions. 
I love my baths (sadly my stand-up shower doesn’t make for the best bath tub, but I’ll cry about that later) and getting into my skincare routine. I go through the routine of wincing as my eyebrows get threaded and thoroughly find peace spending time by myself reading or crocheting, but I learned that self-care and manifesting the life I want to live doesn’t just happen with pixie dust, crystals, and constantly posting on Instagram. The real work is uncomfortable and challenges you to think about who you want to be, what you want to change about yourself, and what you want to forgive yourself for. Candice Jones, author of The Self-Love Workbook, and Aneesha DuBois, author of It Always Works In Your Favor, understand that a blueprint to creating a more mindful life was necessary — not just for themselves, but for others. 
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It Always Works In Your Favor is a compilation of Aneesha DuBois’s journal entries-turned-reflections that shows readers that the desires you put out in the universe can come to you if you do the work to prepare for them and are patient. When we spoke over Zoom, her passion for educating women to be in control of their lives was the motivation I didn’t know I needed. The New Jersey native has worked all across various media companies; she was a producer at E! News, a former fashion PR director for Wildfox and even a voice actor on Nickelodeon (Made By Maddie, Paw Patrol, and Roaralai in Mattel’s Cave Club and Cave Tales). When she found a book in her boss’s office about the Law of Attraction, she was so hooked she got in trouble for reading it at work, finished it in a few days and became intent on asking the universe for exactly what she wanted in her life. Through her professional and personal experiences, DuBois chalks her blessings up to preparing herself, believing she can have anything she puts out in the universe and trusting that all of her opportunities will come on time — once you believe in it and do the work to receive it God and the universe will work your blessings out in your favor.
Candice Jones realized she needed to slow down and take inventory when she graduated college. She changed her mind about her career path away from being an OBGYN despite her parents’ affirmations, and realized she needed to heal from past relationships. Soaking in a tub and piling on a face mask wouldn’t cut it. So she did research and started checking where her guilt and shame came from in an effort to start healing and transformed her journey into a workbook, The Self-Love Workbook, for other young Black women to use as a resource on their on-going journey to self-love and acceptance. The workbook includes space to write out the moments of regret and shame you’ve been keeping inside and steps on how to release and claim your happiness; you are in the driver’s seat through your self-love process.
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R29Unbothered had the chance to speak to both women about how their lives have made them authors with a passion for helping readers be their best selves. 
Photo: Courtesy of Aneesha DuBois

Aneesha DuBois 

R29 Unbothered: How do you hope Black women of all ages use your book, It Always Works In Your Favor, to harness their Black Girl Magic?
Aneesha DuBois:  “I would say, know that we can have, do, be whatever at whatever age. The negative stigmas people put on us is theirs to own. It has nothing to do with us. In fact, they don’t even exist in my world. The cliche things I hear about Black women are null and void in my mental space like they don't exist here. I firmly believe that what you give your attention to grows, be it negative or positive. And, we know we are pure magic. We know we are pure power. And if we believe even an ounce of the negative labels that they place on us, then our power lessens, our light dims, we're fearful, we're not as confident. My hope is that Black women read my journal and they believe that they can have all of their hearts desires. [It Always Works In Your Favor] is literally for the greater good. And that's why in it I ask you to do the work with me. Don't just read it and shelf it like you would do any other book. Keep this with you and refer back to it.”
What do you say to those who think manifestations are purely up to luck? 
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If you believe that, I would say that you're missing out on a good life that is just waiting for you. All your heart's desires are right there, but they're not coming into fruition. Why? Because you don't believe you deserve it. You believe others deserve all their success and their wants and their needs. Why think that way? We're all the same; it's just your way of thinking that is making you different. So you better stop playing and believe that everything that you desire or everything that you want and dream of can be yours as long as you do your part. Ask, believe, receive. Once you train your thoughts, the rest is easy. Don't make life hard on yourself. Believe, feel that you can get anything you want and you can have it.” 
What do you do when you dream big and it doesn’t come to fruition?
"I just know and I trust that the timing is not quite right. It could be that there is better out there; just give it some time. At E! News, for example, I went in and interviewed as the assistant for the segment producers. Two weeks prior to when I interviewed, the position for the associate producer wasn't available yet. So I interviewed and then the universe and God said, 'Hold on one second. I got something greater for you.’ Two weeks later, out of the blue, I got a call about them wanting me to interview for that role. Just trust the timing of it. 
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It could also be that you're not ready, that you need more practice."
Can you unpack how God and the Universe work together in your life to manifest your goals? 
“I'll start off by saying: this is just what works for me. Some people may only believe in one or the other. I am not dismissing God because I know that that is the end all be all so for me. I believe that there is a higher power. There is someone watching me guiding me, giving me all that I need, all that I want.
I may randomly thank the universe for supporting me. And in the next sentence I'll literally have my hands up in the sky thanking God for his grace, his favor, his mercy while I'm watching a T.D. Jakes sermon on YouTube — saying one over the other isn't dismissing God at all. I know that because of these higher powers my life is full of favor, magic, grace and some fairy dust. I just use them interchangeably. You just float, it just flows.” 
Photo: Courtesy of Candice Jones

Candice Jones 

Unbothered: How do you hope Black women of all ages use The Self-Love Workbook to harness their Black Girl Magic?
"After I graduated college, I found myself like a lot of other girls: kind of lost in that weird transition period between being a young woman and coming into full grown womanhood. A lot transpired when I was in college that changed who I was as a person. When I got back home, I was around my family, but I felt lost. I didn't know where to go. And I felt like, 'Okay, if I do the bubble bath thing and post positive things on Instagram or repost things to my stories I'm going to feel better,' but I didn't. 
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So there came a crashing down point. Everybody has that point in their life and I needed something to really cause change in my life and to heal myself. I started doing research on what I could do for myself to pull myself out of the hurt I was feeling from failed relationships and career path changes. The desire for me to create [the workbook] was something that I needed for myself. [I was] scouring the Internet, trying to find different exercises, different things that I can do to get to the root of my pain. I was able to pinpoint where my issues were, where my shame and guilt were coming from. And on the other side of that, not completely healed because the journey is ever evolving. 
So I decided other people might need this: something that's packaged well, and they don't have to do all the extensive work. It's from somebody who looks like them, somebody who can relate to where they're at in their journey as a young woman. I put all of the pieces together for the things that really transformed my life and put it into the book." 
How do we get deeper than just bubble baths and skin care when it relates to self-care and self-love? 
“Some days I do need a bubble bath, but some days, I really need to dig deep and say, 'Hey, what's going on with me? What do you need?' Ask those harder questions that may not feel as luxurious in the moment, but they change who you are for the positive. Hopefully, having brands like Everything She Is can bring all those pieces together, to bring the experience of having nice things and feeling good along with the inner healing in self reflection.” 
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How would you define self care? 
“Self care is just doing things that are in the best interest of yourself, and that looks different ways for different people, but it's about prioritizing your needs. It's not just a need in a certain area, it's all of your needs. Self care is literally just taking care of yourself and putting your needs first.
It can feel very uncomfortable. I had to ask, 'Okay, what are the harder things that don't feel like self care but are self care?' And sometimes it’s just telling yourself no, sometimes it’s just indulging but then sometimes not indulging. So you have to understand wholly where you're at and who you are to even know what it is that you need. How many people really know what's in their best interests outside of just what feels good?” 
Why is your book important for Black women to read? 
“I wanted Black women to see [that my illustrations are for them because oftentimes there are tools and resources but Black women aren't centered in them. We don't feel seen and we don't trust those forces enough to surrender our healing process to older white men and women because it doesn't feel safe and it doesn't feel like they understand the struggles that we have. I wanted Black women and Black girls to see their faces in the book. 
I wanted us to feel celebrated in this and know that there's somebody holding their hand through this. People don't really talk a lot about how tumultuous the journey to womanhood can be, especially in a family dynamic. My mom never sat me down and said, 'There are things that are really going to hurt and there are things that are really going to tear you down, but here are the tools to deal with that.' I don't blame my mom at all because generations are different, they prioritize different things. And for my mom, it was all about sacrifice. It was about sacrificing her life and herself for her children which is 100 percent commendable. But, those tools don't necessarily teach you how to heal. So I wanted to create this [workbook] for young black women so they have the tools and coping mechanisms to say, ‘When I'm going through this, I can come back to the source and say I can journal it out.’
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I think especially within the Black community, we've come a long way with having conversations, but there's still work to do. And my mom, now she's understanding more and she's talking to me more about her relationship with her mom and unpacking that and I'm just getting to know her more as a woman and not just as my mom. So I'm hoping that as I grow older and I have children of my own these are things that I can pass on to them.” 
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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