hijab fashion, hijab fashion blog, coach fashion editorial, chicago fashion blog, muslim fashion blog

Oh capitalism, always devaluing women's work and emotional labor and warping people's sense of self-worth based on a physical measurable output of profit. If you don't manage to check everything (or hell, anything) off your to-do list for the day, going to bed can feel guilty, and overwhelming to-do lists can even become discouraging to the point that you just want to burn all of your notebooks and lay in bed with netflix and take-out all day. Productivity literally comes from yeilding mass "product" or commodities. 

Self-care (especially for women and women of color) is a radical act in the West.  

hijab fashion, hijab fashion blog, coach fashion editorial, chicago fashion blog, muslim fashion blog
hijab fashion, hijab fashion blog, coach fashion editorial, chicago fashion blog, muslim fashion blog
hijab fashion, hijab fashion blog, coach fashion editorial, chicago fashion blog, muslim fashion blog

Of course, here I don't want to talk about self-care that has been turned into an excuse to get out of just about everything, ultimately adding more work for everyone else you're working with (and therefore disrupting their ability to "self-care" as well), but a redefinition of our relationships to productivity and how we can avoid this type of "burn-out" self care altogether, as learned while in Iran.

Think of this as a preventative self-care method to help prevent burn-out, rather than a list of ways to take care of yourself and enjoy cute things after you've already over-worked yourself (because let's be real--my list includes looking at cute baby bird photos and I've been told many times, wildly enough, that not everyone finds comfort in doing so).

The concept of individual "self-care" is a learned act, foreign to many AMEMSA (African, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) people as continual self-sacrifice for a family or community is deeply inherent to collectivist communities of the "East" (as opposed to the Western model of individualism). It doesn't matter that you are sick and have two exams tomorrow -- if your friend is also sick you're bringing them homemade soup, pronto. But this mindset of serving others before looking after yourself does not play out in isolation: it is part of a larger culture and lifestyle that has a particular definition of productivity, idea of relationships, and outlook of time (why do you think we are always late!!) that sits almost directly contrary to Western, capitalist-infused culture. 

Here in Chicago (okay well now technically I'm in a cafe in New Jersey where I just finished getting in an argument with a Trump supporter who was defending the Muslim Ban. I'm on my Tehran Streetstyle book tour so if you're in NYC peep my upcoming events to see where you can catch me!) we correlate happiness to productivity, and productivity to checking concrete things off our to-do lists--things that are usually chores or related to work or organizing (replying to client emails, meetings, etc). And more often than not, we tend to drop those activities and rituals first that are deeply grounding and healing: praying, playing music, reading, writing poetry...sleeping, as they don't make it on our list of to-dos: they are "saved" for our non-existent free-time. 

But, one of the most important things I've learned from my time in Iran and the Middle East & North Africa is redefining my relationship to productivity: being productive more than just in a capitalistic, individual economic sense, but being productive for myself, my relationships, and my community too. 

How can I structure care--for myself and for others--into my routine as a way to prevent burn-out from solely work-related tasks and errands? 

You'd be surprised at how much further your energy lasts when you haven't just been sitting in front of a computer all day, distracted by every Trump supporter who walks into the cafe. 

If catching up with a friend is taking longer than expected, rather than getting anxious, view it as productive: you're building a relationship, and that is valuable. Skip that email and take a minute to make home-made food -- all activities that will help you get everything else checked off your list, too. Of course, this redefinition of productivity works best when you do so in community with others who think and act like you: when everyone around you views productivity as check-ins with people they love, you immediately feel more supported and motivated.

I still organize things in lists, and crossing things off of it is still positively correlated to my general happiness and sense of productivity, but I'm working on making sure my lists are not just composed of self-deprecating tasks like "finish responding to that email you started responding to last year" or "clean room. and life. but mostly room" but now I'm adding important things that allow me to re-charge and slow my pace, like "read something that will help you learn more about challenging anti-Muslim policies" or "call your mother," and crossing them off as productive. 

hijab fashion, hijab fashion blog, coach fashion editorial, chicago fashion blog, muslim fashion blog
Photography: Daniel Che | Location: Southside, Chicago | Crossbody: c/o Coach

P.S. Phew, it has been a minute since I've posted a shoot! If you follow me on instagram or snapchat, you already know this, but I almost died shooting this so you better as hell like the result. Never climb things and stand on edges when you have little balance walking on flat surfaces anyway. Also, never wear white shoes to treks in the mud. Ouf. 


P.S. In NYC, LA, Oakland, San Francisco, or Chicago?