“Balanced Black Girl” Wants The Wellness Space to Get Real

Photograph by Sarah Wolfe, Courtesy of Balanced Black Girl

Photograph by Sarah Wolfe, Courtesy of Balanced Black Girl

At Mindful Feminism, we’re in love with podcasts, and recently we came across an episode that really caught our eye: “#WellnessSoWhite” by Balanced Black Girl. After listening to it, so many things we’d been thinking about the industry fell in place -and we knew we had to speak with wonderful host Les Alfred. Our talk with her was as amazing as expected.

One thing you should know about Les is that she’s not afraid to have difficult conversations, even if that means making important changes in her life. Since 2013, she’d been successfully running Balanced Berry, a popular fitness blog turned online personal training business. But at the beginning of this year, Les began to feel burnt out and uninspired, she knew it was time for something different, and in the middle of a break from social media, it all became clear.

“When I took time off I received a lot of messages from women saying ‘when you’re not posting I see no diversity in my feed.’” This really caught Les by surprise. She also got an e-mail from a follower that was a true game-changer. “It was after I attended a wellness event, and this person told me she’d realized I was the only woman of color at the event -she was a Latina that reached out to let me know that she looked up to me and really couldn’t relate to a lot of women on Instagram in the same way”.

Support from her followers allowed Les to see that speaking about diversity in wellness was what people clearly needed and wanted. “I realized all along people had been looking to me to provide this content, so it was time to be much more intentional about it.” Just like that, Balanced Black Girl became a reality.

Les shares wisdom about a lot of topics on her podcast and blog, but considering the episode that initially made us fall in love with her, we had to dive into the #WellnessSoWhite subject.

As a Latina-run publication, we sincerely believe in the importance of representation, and Les really helped us flush out the why. “A simple approach is that we feel more connected to content that feels more relatable. For example, it’s tough to eat healthy when someone's telling you that all the food from your culture is bad and you shouldn’t have it. I mean chicken and broccoli doesn't work for everybody. Also, seeing people similar to yourself in the wellness space sends the message that your health and wellness matter too, all of a sudden you fit in the conversation.”

Les talked about what everyone can easily do to make change happen. “Diversify your social media feeds. Look at the people you follow, if they all look exactly like you or a fantasy you’re trying to reach, switch it up.” This piece of advice came from experience. Running Balanced Black Girl, Les has discovered the wellness space in a new way. “There’s some incredible woman of color in the wellness space that I didn’t even know existed because I wasn’t looking for them before. Once I put the vibe out there I started attracting, connecting, and growing with these women, it's been wonderful.”

For women of color, her message also came from experience. “Don’t let difficult situations keep you on the fence. I know how uncomfortable it is to walk into certain spaces and not see anyone who looks like you or have a teacher treat you differently -it happened to me this morning- but remember, if you weren’t that one person, no one would be there, go deeper into those spaces and bring others with you”.

Photograph by Sarah Wolfe, Courtesy of Balanced Black Girl

Photograph by Sarah Wolfe, Courtesy of Balanced Black Girl

As for content creators in the wellness space, “creating content that is more achievable to people instead of selling a fantasy that everyone likes to look at but doesn’t feel like they can actually have, is urgent." Les believes that businesses in the wellness space are meant to empower people to lead healthier lives, as opposed to creating profit based off of people's insecurities.

All in all, we were delighted to hear that Les' brave change is paying off. Although she initially thought her followers would reject the change of voice and topics, "the opposite has happened. People have been open to it, they’ve asked insightful questions, they’ve wanted to learn, and this makes me super hopeful!"

We're thankful to Les for creating these conversations! Don’t miss her podcast, available here.