Selfcarefully

Gracy Obuchowicz, illlus. by Maria Habib. Thick, $20 (84p) ISBN 978-1-7320666-1-8
Obuchowicz’s slim, beautifully designed debut of reflections on self-care will inspire—if not instruct—readers to confront difficult society-wide issues that rarely appear in self-care fare. Most readers will be familiar with the sentiments expressed in Obuchowicz’s essays “Fucking It All Up” and “Vulnerability,” but fewer will be as conversant with the relationship between self-care and a patriarchal social system, or self-care and racism. These topics are big and complex, but Obuchowicz does not investigate them. Instead, her project strives to point out that social values within a patriarchy have convinced too many people that self-care is in fact selfish and that asking for help is “not an option.” She outlines a community-oriented form of self-care, suggesting that “complete” self-care requires readers to “look carefully at how racial dynamics” shape their lives. She recommends both physical and mental health practices from Ayurveda, including a section on the importance of oils. However, her disparate sections never add up to a clear plan; rather, they simply call for more connection and community building. While the essays are sometimes too brisk, the book’s aesthetic packaging, particularly Habib’s meandering, saturated illustrations and the heavy, textured paper, lend an artist’s-journal quality that accentuates the book’s message. Obuchowicz’s quiet argument for regenerative acts of understanding and compassion will be useful to readers wishing to think more broadly about societal hindrances to living a healthier life. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/09/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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