Basic Space: Cassidy

August 27, 2020

Cassidy (@cassidiaah) shares her experiences navigating wellness spaces as a plus-size Black woman, and reflects on checking in on herself, implementing boundaries, representation and accountability, and so much more.

Cassidy (@cassidiaah) shares her experiences navigating wellness spaces as a plus-size Black woman, and reflects on checking in on herself, implementing boundaries, representation and accountability, and so much more.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do!

Starting with an introduction: my name is Cassidy, and my username @cassidiaah is actually a play on one of my childhood nicknames (which is pronounced cass-a-dia, kind of like quesadilla). I’m a Scorpio and from Detroit, Michigan but moved to Savannah, Georgia for fashion design school. I graduated in June from SCAD with a design degree. I work in kidswear and womenswear with a textile focus in Denim. I do a lot of work on Instagram with fashion, wellness, and sustainability, and just recently opened a Depop for the masks I’m making. 

What does self-care mean to you? Why do you think it’s important?

Self-care to me means being fully present in myself and my thoughts. During school I started looking for an outlet that would help me ground and center myself, because I was feeling off-balance with all the intense pressure fashion school put on me. I started going to a yoga center downtown and got into the practice as a way to hold space for myself no matter what stress I was feeling from the outside world. My self-care can also look like reading a book, or going to the greenhouse in our neighborhood to look at the flowers. I think it’s important to know that self-care doesn't have to be going to a yoga studio or any other wellness practice that is popular today. You just have to honor yourself in ways that work for you!

What’s been keeping you sane during quarantine?

I’ve been making masks pretty much since the moment I moved back home from school because of the pandemic in March. I started making masks as a way to contribute but also keep myself busy. Watching what’s happening in the world, I think masks not only became a great way to help people get through this, but it gave me a reason to keep sewing. At the end of the day, I love fashion, I love sewing, and I love people. This keeps me sane.

What are some everyday habits you implement to make sure you’re caring for yourself?

On the same note that mask making keeps me sane, I can get wrapped up in working constantly because I'm doing it from home. I think a lot of people that work from home are experiencing this feeling right now too. Recently, I’ve started setting boundaries for my workday and giving myself time to fully step away from everything. It’s easier said than done, and I know that being able to step away is a luxury a lot of people may not have. Having that space away from work and back to myself is important for me.

How do you check in on yourself?

I check in on myself by stepping away from my phone. Spending so much of my time creating content for Instagram can leave me feeling really drained. Working in social media as a Black woman and creator is hard. It’s easy to not feel valued in this space. I made it a goal for myself to step away once a week--and I mean, phone in the other room, book in my hand, music playing type away--to spend time nurturing myself and my spirit.

Do you think having time to implement self-care is a privilege?

I do think that the current more “Instagram-worthy” idea of self-care doesn’t work for everyone. Not everyone has the ability or resources to stop whatever they’re doing or what’s going on in their lives to sit in a bathtub, light candles, and do a face mask. I said earlier that self-care is what works for you, and I strongly believe that. I think that finding moments within your daily life that feel good for you is the part of self-care that makes a difference. 

What does inclusivity mean to you? Why do you think it’s important?

Inclusivity to me means that all people are valued and recognized as important parts of the world and community. It’s hugely important. 

Why do you think representation in the media (especially in the beauty and wellness industries) is important for underrepresented communities?

I think representation in the media is profoundly important. For example, as a plus-size woman, starting my yoga practice was scary. I was scared I wouldn’t be accepted into the community because I hadn't seen anyone who looked like me doing it. I saw a commercial one day that you might have seen yourself, it was for Kotex, and the yogi Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn) is in it. Seeing a beautiful, plus-size Black woman doing yoga motivated me to pursue it. She created a body-inclusive space in yoga that hadn't been there before and the impact that has had in the yoga world and plus community is profound. 

We have to hold brands accountable for our representation structurally, within employees and higher ups, not just in social media campaigns. Performative inclusivity will not be accepted. 

What led you to fashion design?

I kind of just jumped into fashion design! I’ve always been creative and loved fashion/clothing as an art form, but, as the story goes, I spent my first two years in college studying medicine. After taking a general elective art class I decided that I needed to follow my creative side and literally just applied for SCAD and got in! Fashion was exciting and challenging to me, and I like to prove that I can do anything I want to (the Scorpio jumped out) so I went into the fashion program. I’m really glad I decided to do this, I’ve grown so much as a person and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

In what ways do you feel the fashion and beauty industries can be more inclusive?

The fashion and beauty world have some of the most work to do when it comes to inclusivity. I could go on about this forever. I believe both industries have to make structural changes to their systems in order to make space for everyone in our community. It needs to start with a genuine appreciation for diversity and seeing that translate to how your brand/company is operated. It shouldn't be an afterthought.

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