Welcome to the Sad Girls Club, Where It's OK Not to Be OK
Elyse Fox founded Sad Girls Club in February 2017, after the release of her documentary film, "Conversations with Friends," which detailed her life with depression. Today, Sad Girls Club has become a collective of young womxn, girls, and femmes of color from all over the world who support one another through their mental health struggles. The club has an online platform and also hosts IRL workshops and has become a place for people to find community, care, and mentorship.
This year, in honor of July's BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, SGC partnered with Instagram for a photo series that brought together some of its members who have managed to carve out a space for their mental health through the arts, politics, journalism, and social media — and who encourage others to find their own positive outlets of expression. POPSUGAR had the honor of interviewing some of these advocates, activists, and creators — from Deja Foxx to Brittney Winbush — and trust us, the advice is *chef's kiss*. Welcome the Sad Girls Club.
— Additional reporting by Taylor Andrews and Maggie Ryan
- Photographer: Sophia Wilson (@phiawilson)
- Art Director: Jamont Hanshaw (@hoodrichj)
- Stylist: Sebastian Jean (@sebjective)
- Stylist Assistant: Morgan Charlton (@momocharlton)
- Makeup: Kento Utsubo (@kentoutsubo)
- Makeup Assistant: Mana Atsumi (@manaatsumi829)
- Hair: Andrita Renee (@andrita)
- Lighting: Ashley Markle (@filmmarkle)
- Set: Jenny Correa (@jennykcorrea)
- Set Assistant: Xia Liu (@xxi__a)
Brittney Alexandra Winbush
You started your company, Alexandra Winbush, after a house fire incident, right? What prompted you to do that?
I needed a way to feel safe again, and I needed to give myself the power to create that space wherever I am. For me candles, specifically aromatherapy, felt like the perfect way to create whatever space I wanted. There are candles that smell like the beach; candles that remind [you of] your grandmother's house. I found candles to be so therapeutic in my journey after the fire. [They also] put me face-to-face with my fear [of fire], and [helped me] take my mental wellness seriously.
Who are your biggest inspirations in wellness?
This will sound funny, but my grandmothers: women who rested when they were tired, said no when they didn't want to do something, and made home for themselves and the things they enjoyed. I didn't realize as a child but that — that is wellness!
What is the role of an influencer today? How have you utilized your platform, and what do you hope to convey to your followers?
With my platform, I share my journey with mental health honestly and transparently. I am so vulnerable with my community because there in power in seeing someone that looks like you speak about things like mental health! Like talking about high-functioning anxiety, the waves of depression, while also sharing the brunch spots?! That's my truth, and I'm going to show up like that for myself and my community.
In 2019, Mariama Jalloh started @jallohstudios, a resource hub for Black women artists and creators to connect, collaborate, and grow together.
What has been your favorite event Jalloh Studios has hosted thus far?
My favorite event was the "We Bloom" networking workshop series. It was a collaborative event brought to life by Jalloh Studios and Now You See Us, for BIPOC women creatives who shared similar experiences and challenges within their creative professions and spaces. Together we've been able to cultivate a space for BIPOC women to explore different aspects of creative wellness, while also encouraging them to tap into their inner confidence and wisdom.
How do you personally tap into your creative flow? What does that look like for you?
Since all of the content I create on Jalloh Studios is channeled and inspired by my personal experiences, it is very important for me to have moments for deep reflections. Therefore, in order for me to tap into my creative flow, I have to feel grounded and inspired. I do this by intentionally taking the time to be in tune with myself and my deepest thoughts. Outside of that, I gain so much inspiration through my personal connections, travel, museum visits, and so much more.
What advice would you give to young Black women who are experiencing roadblocks when it comes to creating or sharing their work?
I think one piece of advice I would share with them is to intentionally reframe their thoughts through self-affirming mantras, and to also look for a mentor or accountability partner they can share space with. There's so many factors that play a role in one's ability to show up confidently as their most authentic selves — impostor syndrome, perfectionism, or self-comparison. However, I think being able to reframe your thoughts around your work and its value helps you to further affirm your creativity and work. I think cultivating a relationship or network with other women in your space can also allow you to feel seen and heard, giving you that additional boost on the days you need it most.
Deja Foxx (@dejafoxx), founder of GenZGirlGang, has used her personal experience and challenges to advocate for others and foster the next generation of activists.
Why did you get involved in politics?
I didn't choose politics; politics chose me. I was raised by a single mom below the poverty line. I grew up in Section 8 housing and on food stamps and knew from a very young age what it was like to have the resources I needed to survive and thrive controlled by elected officials often outside of my reach. When I was 15, I moved out of my mom's home due to issues of substance abuse. It was through that lens, living with my boyfriend at the time, that I saw how outdated the sex education I was receiving in my Arizona school district was. I started showing up to school board meetings and telling my story, and I never looked back. I've scaled up my work fighting for birth control access and abortion and working in digital strategy, having been one of the youngest presidential campaign staffers in modern history at just 19.
You're a multihyphenate activist, college student, model, strategist, and founder — what's your advice to others who are worried about stepping outside of their comfort zone and finding what they're meant to do?
Start personal. Find the issues that are impacting you personally. Where does your life intersect with what you're hearing in the news? Then, get to know your personal story. Each and every one of us has our own unique story, and there is no one else who can tell it. What's yours, and how can you use it as an agent of change? And then, lastly, bring your personal network along with you! If they care about you, they'll care about what you care about.
You've said that you want to be President someday. What does the country look like under a Foxx administration?
I am committed to the vision of reproductive justice, a framework created by Black women and tied to the organization Sister Song. That vision isn't just about being able to choose if and when to have children; it is also about being able to raise them in communities that are healthy, thriving, and free from the threats of climate change, police brutality, and the rise of hate and nationalism. It is also a future where everyone's — and I mean everyone's — right to bodily autonomy is respected and protected.
It's OK, @deja_foxx. We dont quite have a handle on burnout either. @sadgirlsclublove @elyse.fox @wellbritt @itsbritneynicole_
TW: This interview contains mention of rape and suicide ideation. Please proceed thoughtfully.
As a journalist and mental health advocate, D'Shonda Brown (@signedshonda) champions Black stories, making the community feel seen and heard one interview at a time, while also taking them along her mental health journey and inviting them to embark on transformations of their own.
You've always prioritized telling Black stories. Why is that so important to you?
My tagline is "shifting the culture through dope convos," and I do just that. I make it a point to let people know that my content is Blackity Black Black Black — meaning that you're going to hear some Black questions from a Black woman talking to a Black talent about things that impact the Black community and us as Black women.
You've previously been open about your past trauma. What advice do have for others who've had a similar experience and are struggling to push through?
When I was raped, I felt powerless, like I wasn't in control. I want boys, girls, nonbinary folks, and everyone in between to know that you do have the power. Someone is here for you, and if you don't have that person, I'll be that person. Listen to yourself and be honest about your healing process. Sit and breathe with your own thoughts for a second, and if you don't want to be alone or feel like you can't trust yourself to be alone, it's always good to know that someone is there on the other line or in the room that wants to be there for you. We just have to let them.
How do you prioritize your mental health in the news cycle we live in today, especially being a journalist?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am so big on mental health, no matter what's going on. "How's your mental health doing?" is how I open any and every conversation. Whether it be with my colleagues or an A-list talent — I don't care who it is. I need to know how you're actually doing because it wouldn't sit right in my spirit as a human if I put a soundbite over the mental health and well-being and who I'm talking to. If you tell me you're good, then I'm good. If you tell me you're just OK or you've been better, I have no problem rescheduling because I want you to be at your best. I won't lie, though: I'm still learning how to do all of that for myself. Taking breaks, pausing, and realizing that the world won't set itself ablaze if I take a few days or a week off is really hard for me. I'm back in therapy, I openly communicate with my support system about how I'm feeling, and I try to figure out a plan as to what healing looks like for me. Sometimes, I have to just close my laptop, walk away, cry for a few minutes, and come back to center.
Eka Eyoh (@allthingseka), a Minnesota native, came to New York with dreams of becoming a model. Now, after overcoming countless no's, she's looking to empower other aspiring models and help arm them with the greatest tool available: a strong mind.
You came to New York from the Midwest with $6,000 and a goal to model. Knowing what you know now, is there any advice you wish you could give your younger self?
My younger self was so open, carefree, and optimistic, but in contrast was so fragile, vulnerable, and insecure about showing my true authentic self. If I could give my younger self, who just moved to NYC with big aspirations, any advice, it would be these three main points:
- Learn how to set boundaries and practice saying no. Learning how to say no was one of the hardest yet important life skills I had to teach myself. It's very necessary to prioritize your boundaries because true self-care is learning how to say no and not feel guilty about it in any space or capacity.
- Take up space, and be unapologetic about it. I feel like I spent so much of my life playing small and shrinking myself to accommodate those around me. My thoughts that needed to be spoken were left unsaid; my ideas that were so innovative weren't initiated; my emotional and personal needs weren't expressed or nurtured. At some point, I felt like I was allowing others to define my worth, and it was up to me to challenge those limiting beliefs about myself.
- Refine your relationship with time. I feel like in your 20s, you're placed onto this high expectation to achieve everything before you reach 30. It's this immense pressure we put onto ourselves but can also be projected onto us by our peers, society, and family. My life became so much more at ease once I redefined my relationship with time and saw it as what is meant for me will come when the time is right. This mindset has allowed me to practice patience and be more present with myself.
You recently made a guide titled "The Mindful Model" to help others ground themselves while navigating the industry. What prompted you to do that?
My friend Makeena Rivers and I were in a head space of being frustrated at the emotional and mental toll being in this industry can have on us. One of my biggest hurdles was my anxiety. I've dealt with it most of my life, and there are many times it has affected me on set. Incorporating breathwork before and during a shoot has been so beneficial in allowing myself to be more present and not in my head so much. Rejection is part of this industry, but dealing with it is never easy. I used to internalize it and let it define my worth. It wasn't until I learned to redefine my relationship with rejection and see it as whatever is meant for me will align when the time is right.
Creator Greisy Hernandez (@greisyhh) promotes mindfulness practices on cluttered content spaces like TikTok and Instagram to encourage others to invest in their well-being.
How did you start on your journey to emotional wellness and awareness of mental health?
Mental health has always been a part of my life, but it wasn't until recently that I developed a healthy relationship with it. Early on I was conditioned to numb my pain, which turned into a depression spell. I couldn't find resources that fit my Latinx background, let alone ways to communicate, so I created it. From journaling prompts, to breathwork, nature meditations — everything I share is intending to root in community and come back to our wholeness. Nourishing all parts of ourselves through love and curiosity.
You have lots of videos about self-dates. Why are these important to you?
Self-dates have allowed me to get comfortable with enjoying my presence, and that gives me the courage to enter or leave any situation based on how safe I feel. Every Monday, I have a date with abundance: the most powerful manifestation tool I practice. I bring a journal to a nature spot or a cute bakery to dream and reflect. Abundance is not limited to wealth or material possessions. It goes beyond that to include community, freedom, and feelings.
What's your advice for cultivating healthy relationships?
If we want to build healthy relationships, we need to cultivate that within ourselves. It starts with noticing if we revert to a gentle or critical tone when we talk to ourselves. I shifted that tone by reframing my limiting beliefs through CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] journaling. I know that I am not my struggles; I am a multidimensional being experiencing them. On top of that, I have community (Sad Girls Club) to remind me how far I've come and how much growth we'll have together.
Doriana Diaz (@bydorianadiaz) is a visual designer, writer, poet, and artist who isn't afraid to lean into vulnerability and authenticity, and hopes her creations will allow others to do the same.
You mentioned that art has save your life "more than once." In what way has it, and how can people use different mediums of art to save theirs?
I grew up knowing that art was an inherent vessel of healing. I knew that art had a way of curating its own essence, an energy that could move you in more ways than one. It could make you fall apart, bring you to tears, reclaim your own joy, conspire with your own memory in ways nothing else could. I utilize the medium of collage art as a way to understand the happenings around me. I use it as a vessel for connection to my lineage, to the collective archive of culture and restoration — that saves me every single time.
Your handcrafted journals are beautiful. How do you find inspiration for them?
My journals have been a new project that I have taken on. In some ways, I believe that I was honoring my younger self through this endeavor. I learned how to bookbind while I was living in Rome years ago and fell in love with the practice. When I returned home, I fell out of touch with it. A few months ago, an energy began to call me back to it. While collage has been a craft that I harnessed and have been exploring for years, I decided to combine both of them and make journals with collages on the covers. I find inspiration for them everywhere. In my practice, I do not print any images. All visual elements are sourced from tangible materials like records, CDs, textbooks, newspapers, and so many other places. The inspiration comes from my inner core — it sounds so strange, but there is a feeling that overcomes me when I find different images from places and combine them to make something that may have never existed together before.
What type of community care events are your favorite, and why do you find them to be so important and impactful in your life?
All kinds. I believe that community care is the medicine for everything. I have been so impacted by certain spaces and the memories made within the constraints of a few hours or moments spent present in them — but the debris of it continues to live inside me for a lifetime. Community care is kinship, kinship is lineage, lineage is memory, and memory is everything all the time.