PAPAYANWELL Emphasis on Wellness-Inclusivity
Wellness For One, Wellness For All
The wellness industry’s problematic elements and perception make ‘wellness’ feel intimidating, or even gimmicky, to newcomers. Many regard the industry negatively due to a sense of being unwelcome. This is a significant problem when you consider the health disparities in the United States, with a documented health gap impacting factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status that confirm a lack of inclusion. When marginalized groups are underrepresented in the wellness space, it exacerbates this sense of alienation, driving home the notion that wellness is not accessible to all.
PAPAYANWELL seeks to change this, creating a holistic nutritional community that makes it a point to support BIWOC wellness-seekers on their journeys. With so many different lifestyles, preferences, and factors impacting access to the various facets of holistic wellness, we as an industry must begin to reflect on how to overcome the barriers hindering the reality of wellness for all.
Unpacking Mainstream Wellness
There is a definite disconnect between the average person and the wellness influencers we see on social media. Too often, individuals have taken one specific type of philosophy or modality and embodied it to an extreme, whether that be fitness, a particular diet, or drinking celery juice. But most of us want to find ways to make our everyday lives more wellness-promoting — not embrace a drastic overhaul that will radically change our lives forevermore.
“Not everyone can have the perfect 6 a.m. routine and go to pilates every morning,” says Jahnela, nutritionist and founder of PAPAYANWELL. She points out that even beyond this lack of practicality, a lack of representation makes the industry even more unrelatable. “Diversity is important, and every person deserves to have access to feeling well,” she emphasizes. Different races, body types, lifestyles, and even incomes need to be catered to if the notion of wellness for all is to be genuinely actualized.”
Others feel that the industry needs to highlight human stories, not the pinnacles of “perfection” that can serve to fuel unrealistic (and unhealthy) standards and goals. “Many people are truly trying their best. So if we can acknowledge this reality that many people face, then we can create realistic discussions about wellness and how one can navigate that journey,” she notes the very real challenges associated with making wellness-first changes in a lifestyle. Because everyone faces unique opportunities, barriers, and limitations that are unique to their lives, it is essential to emphasize that there are many ways that wellness can be incorporated into a sustainable practice.
Breaking Barriers to Create Wellness for All
Jahnela experienced firsthand how the lack of diversity and inclusiveness within the space made it difficult to identify with the wellness industry. She realized that she was likely not the only woman of color struggling with this lack of representation. So, she applied her passion for food and nutrition towards creating a space to support every kind of wellness-seeking woman, no matter the specifics of her path. “[I wanted to show] that they deserve a realistic wellness space and that taking care of yourself both internally and physically is achievable,” says Jahnela.
By intentionally making inclusivity an aim, Jahnela was able to rē•spin a new approach to wellness that helped dismantle the notion of “otherness.” Specifically, she emphasized finding solutions for each individual to find a nutritional practice that works for them to conquer their personal dietary needs. She knew that this was imperative in helping them make it a regular practice and make nutritional wellness a part of their lives.
It is important to note that the different facets of wellness (i.e., fitness, nutrition, stress-reduction, energy work) should also help cultivate a sense of well-being, which comes from within. While Jahlena notes that there will always be bumps in the road, a sense of alienation or otherness is the antithesis of this — and it is unacceptable in an industry that is about promoting well-being. “Wellness is beyond the surface. It’s a deep-rooted feeling that contributes to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being,” she explains. “Feeling well is unique to you and your life. It’s much more than eating salads or drinking green juices. It’s creating little steps in your daily routine that add to the best version of you.”
rē•framing your wellness routines to work for you
At rē•spin, we believe that our core pillars are helpful pathways toward creating a dynamic, wellness-centered lifestyle. This means a life and wellness regimen corresponding to your unique needs and life paths. Nourishing your body is just one of the ways in which you can bring about bodily well-being, yet it is an important one.
Through PAPAYANWELL, Jahnela has sought to make nutrition a positive and empowering experience. In addition to her emphasis on inclusivity, her lessons, practices, and the brand’s community adhere to a dietary philosophy that trusts in the individual’s intuitive knowledge of what their body needs. She also provides one-on-one cooking lessons to help individuals build confidence in their kitchen skills, enabling them to begin to feel at home in the room where they make meals that nourish and sustain them.
She also emphasizes that community cooking classes can be beneficial in other ways, pushing women beyond their culinary comfort zones while facilitating connection to others and creating a sense of community. These are critical components in long-term adherence to nutritional plans and help alleviate any lingering feelings of wellness-related isolation. “I want to remind people that a lot of what we’re looking for in [life comes] from within,” Jahnela says.
As for the best formula for taking care of oneself? Jahnela assures us that it doesn’t take much. “The healing that we are yearning for comes from us,” she explains. “I believe that practicing gratitude and staying present in your daily life is essential no matter where you are in your journey.”
As for the specifics, she recommends making space for healthy relationships and cultivating self-knowledge to tend to the emotional and mental selves. To care for your physical body, she adds spending time in your surrounding environment, practicing movement, and of course, adding fueling your body with nourishing food to the list.