With the sun coming out to shine, people are itching to get back out there and make meaningful connections and attend events with refreshing drinks, fun music, and a place to let your hair down. In partnership with Victoria’s Secret PINK brand, Maybelline, Try Minded, and UGG, Sad Girls Club was able to curate its first annual Sad Girls Club Wellness Summit. Hosted by founder and CEO Elyse Fox herself, the summit took place in Brooklyn, New York, which served as a safe space of community, conversation, comfort, and physical connection.
“Throughout the pandemic, many have experienced a lack of physical connection more than ever before. Lack of physical touch or those who are ‘touch-deprived’ are more likely to experience stress or depression,” Fox told Girls United. “A big part of SGC programming pre-pandemic was through in-person events where we would share space, connect and heal within each other’s energy. It’s important for us to have these spaces because many turn to social connections to feel valued, cared for, and supported by others.”
What started as an Instagram page and their first official meeting in February 2017 has blossomed into a movement for Black and brown women to feel secure while having conversations about mental health, depression, and anxiety. According to Fox, the Wellness Summit has been a dream of hers since the creation of SGC, and knew that there was a space to be filled when it came to speaking to Black and brown folks about mental wellness.
“When I would be invited to any type of wellness thing, I was one of maybe three black women there. It just seemed like we were so tokenized in a space that I felt like we deserve the most,” Fox confided about the inspiration behind the summit. “With Sad Girls Club, I wanted to have a wellness summit for the girls, that people can just come out experience self-care in many different ways, but also be able to pour into themselves, see how other people pour into others, and build friendships around something that is so stigmatized.”
As young Black women, it’s important for us to feel represented in all spaces, and that concept isn’t lost on executive director Brianne Cash. Cash acknowledged that as young Black children, we’re oftentimes told to “stay in a child’s place” and were not encouraged to indulge in self-express prior to Generation Z. Now, Cash praises Fox and the efforts of Sad Girls Club for creating a place where stigmas are destroyed and community is built.
“Now, with our generation, we are realizing how harmful it is to continue to walk around with that code of silence. We can no longer remain silent in choosing ourselves, in putting ourselves first, and allowing ourselves to heal, grow and find love, be loved, or just to be seen, or supported, or taken care of,” Cash said to Girls United passionately. “I think if we continue to have these conversations and allow people to see these similarities, then they’ll also be more encouraged to be more open and honest and seek out help and seek guidance and find community in ways that we weren’t necessarily allowed to find community when we were growing up.”
Today, Sad Girls Club serves as an online and IRL community that has programming that uplifts and supports the Black community community, including its widely popular Chat Room, a group healing session facilitated by Black and brown mental health coaches. “It’s grown to be an amazing community that’s, I would say, global. I’m just happy to continue to grow and see how we can speak about these issues in a way that’s as real as possible,” Fox added.
When asked about the importance of physical spaces as much as online and social media driven communities, Fox noted that creating a place where people can come to just be is an essential part of the healing journey for younger generations.
“The Gen Z and Millennial population, we need human connect. Everybody needs human connection, but even more so, this community has been on lockdown for about three years,” Fox told GU about the impact of isolation on mental health and Generation Z’ers. “It’s important for us to meet, share space and convene in a way that we used to. Some people who had their entire college careers basically on lockdown, they haven’t had these opportunities to have these safe spaces to talk about these really important topics.”
Fox continued, “I just want people to know that SGC is going to be that safe space that’s going to continue to grow and continue to create really premium spaces, not just in New York, but I do want to do this on a national level.” Fox further confirmed that SGC will be embarking on a Summer of Sad Girls tour, where Fox, Cash, and the organization will visit seven or eight cities across the nation including Chicago and Los Angeles.
“We are going to continue to grow by basically challenging ourselves to meet our community where they are and not where it’s most convenient for us to be,” Fox dished to GU about SGC’s future plans for expansion. “We’re going to go to very heavily Black populated areas and talk about these issues and let people know, ‘It’s okay. We’re here for you. We’ll continue to tap into these networks and these markets.’ It’s important for us to just show up in spaces and actually put our faces and everything where our mouths are.”
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Photo Credit: Cheril Sanchez