Cassandre Dunbar, didn't see women like herself in the wellness industry so she created her own podcast
Do you feel like the wellness space can be an exclusionary and intimidating place?
Oh, absolutely. I feel like “wellness” somewhere along the line became synonymous with affluence, whiteness, and thinness. And I think if you are not those things, you may not feel welcome.
So that's one of the reasons why I started the podcast is because when I was looking for wellness resources I did not see myself in any of those spaces. I didn't see anything that resonated with who I am. I'm just like a regular black woman, regular women of color, and I know I’m not the only one who's trying to be well, so it can absolutely be an alienating space. It's become like a monolith. It means one thing. And as I'm learning more about what it means to me, well, it's not one size fits all. It’s very personal and means a lot of different things.
What is your favorite part about making your podcast?
Connections, meeting different people, like you, for example. I feel like COVID brought us all inside of our homes and this has been an opportunity to still meet people and socialize with like like-minded adults. My favorite part has been speaking to women who have so many different experiences and different insights and who have a common goal but are going about it differently.
What does self-care mean for you and what does it look like for you right now?
It sounds so lame and so corny, but the only thing that I've been able to really consistently do for that this past year, is my skincare routine. That's the only time at night and in the morning that I'm by myself in my bathroom. And even then, sometimes the little one will come in, shoot the big one too, and interrupt, but usually it’s the only time that I can be with myself and do something just for me.
Ideally I would be working out more regularly. I'd be going on my walks. Right now, it's my skincare. Oh, and I'm back in therapy. Everything else that I do I'm doing for somebody else – either I'm being a mother, I'm being a daughter, an educator. But those things are just for me.
What feelings arise for you when you go onto social media?
Right now? Anxiety.
I just post and go – because social media, especially this past week, has been just super negative. I know people are just sharing the news and sharing their thoughts around the news, but it's depressing, you know? At the same time, social media has been a way that I've stayed connected to loved ones. But overall, it's just a negative space for me.
Do you have a favorite sense?
Scent is very important to me. One of the reasons why my skincare has been so important to me lately, is because pre-pandemic, I stopped breastfeeding and my skin went nuts. I had cystic acne on my cheeks, and it just would not go away. I used this skincare line, which is like a clean beauty line and their products have fragrance to them that are naturally derived. And I just love it, it's so comforting and indulgent. Just smelling peppermint or lavender or ylang ylang… I just love the sense of smell. I constantly have a candle burning in my office or incense or something. It helps me to zone in and be in focus mode for work.
Is there any negative emotion that you've learned to actually harness for growth or benefit?
I used to feel guilty around resting and feeling tired. I'm just like, no, you're being lazy, push through, keep going. Recently, I respect if I'm tired. If I’m tired, I will rest because I realized that being tired doesn't help me, I'm less effective. So I just honor that now. I pause. It's okay. I'm not a machine, I'm a person.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty, first and foremost, is confidence. Confidence and how you make people feel. And it's so cliche, it's so corny, but it's so true. I've seen just people who by textbook definition are perfect, but then are unkind. And when I look at them, I no longer see the beauty that I once saw. Beauty is just how you treat others and what you do for more than just yourself.
So at Well + Kind, we acknowledge that we are not experts. We'll even go as far to say that we're wellness industry "skeptics." With your medical background, how do you relate to the wellness world?
See, I feel like we're on the same page, because yes, I'm a medical doctor, but I do not believe that I'm an expert in anything. I think people are distrusting of the medical industry recently. I feel like in terms of wellness and medicine, there is just such a huge gap, especially in Western medicine. One of the reasons I started my podcast was because I was searching and trying to become “well,” and there’s such a big gap between what we're taught in medical school and medical training and what it actually is to be well.
So you could be healthy or disease free, your body could be functioning perfectly, but your mind isn't. And some parts of quote-on-quote wellness are really gimmicky. And I am very wary. You know, I try to keep an open mind because there are a lot of things that I don't know, but I side-eye a lot of things. It's like, all right guys, this is a fad.
What is one thing you wish people talked more about in the wellness space?
Going back to trends, I wish people in the wellness space gave credit to the originators of certain things. One thing that is new to me, is Gua Sha. I wish that the Chinese medicine community was given more credit for that. Also yoga. Like where are those who are from India like leading those discussions. So I just wish there was more credit given to the originators of these things that we've embraced in the [Western] wellness community.
As content creators and communities in the wellness world, how do you think we can make this space a more inclusionary and approachable place for women?
I think it's important to seek out people who look different. Different backgrounds. Different body types. That's huge. Different thoughts, too. I remember when I was going to yoga studios, I always felt like, do I even belong here? I was the only black woman. I'm like, well, maybe yoga is not for black people. Like, what am I doing here? You know, like those little things matter. When I'm looking at wellness accounts, like Instagram accounts or their websites, like do I see a bunch of types of people? I don't necessarily need to see like a black person to feel like, Oh, this is for everybody. I just want to see someone who just looks different, and from a different background. And then I feel like, Oh, you're interested in serving us all, not just a specific type of woman.