When Jessica Assaf was a teenager she read a newspaper article that the breast cancer rates in her hometown of Marin, California had risen 60% in just eight years. No one understood why, so driven by an innate responsibility to help she became the youngest volunteer at The Marin Cancer Project. Walking door to door to survey families, a specific question caught her attention — What personal care products do you use? — and left her wondering how our personal care products could possibly be linked to disease.
Once home, she looked up an ingredient in her mascara, only to learn that the same ingredient is used to wax airplane wheels and that many of the ingredients in our personal care products are actually carcinogens. This discovery led her to become a clean beauty activist, and we have her to thank for helping pass the bill, before she could even drive, that requires cosmetics companies to publicly disclose carcinogenic ingredients in their products. Over the last 14 years, Jessica’s played a pioneering role advancing the clean beauty movement as both a health activist and an entrepreneur. She most recently co-founded Prima: An inspiring company leading a wellbeing revolution rooted in education, storytelling, and a line of CBD products.
I especially appreciate Prima for the way their holistic approach to wellbeing gets to the heart of what we all need to feel fulfilled. Jessica summed it best when she said…
“Wellness has become one dimensional. You can read that eating or doing a certain thing may make you feel better…All those pieces are important, but no single thing is going to get you to a place of total wellbeing.
We have to broaden our conception of what health means.
The World Health Organization’s definition of health is a complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
A lot of people are walking around so disconnected from their bodies they don’t even know how they feel.
It’s time for us to reclaim our health, take back the power and begin to understand: How am I feeling today, and how can I feel better tomorrow?”
I’ve personally been inspired by Prima’s commitment to helping each one of us answer that question and was grateful to have Jessica on the podcast to discuss how we can all cultivate a greater sense of wellbeing. Here are a few of the insights I’ve been reflecting on most. You can learn more about the different aspects of wellbeing in our conversation, and I encourage you to spend a moment reading Prima’s Manifesto. Once you do, share it with a friend who may need it too.
Acknowledge self-love as the gateway to a fulfilling life
Self-love plays a foundational role in our wellbeing and Jessica believes it’s the most important quality we can all nurture.
“Just like health, self-love is also a human right,” she says. “Learning and figuring out your relationship with yourself is part of the human experience. If you don’t have self-love, self-respect, and self-worth you’re not going to get very far. You’re only going to scratch the surface.”
Self-love, like wellbeing, has many layers, but one we always have agency in is the way we choose to perceive ourselves. I found Jessica’s perspective on this to be a reassuring reminder…
“You are so much more than that voice inside your head. Your insecurities, that thing you can’t stop thinking about…That’s not who you are. That’s just noise.
Who you are in your essence, when you feel like your best self, that’s you.”
Recognize that the human experience is always shared
The last lines of Prima’s Manifesto are:
You are alive.
You are worthy.
It’s been beautiful to see how deeply this message has resonated with their community as well as emerged as a unifying theme in their interviews. Whether someone was opening up about childbirth or discussing mortality, Jessica quickly realized that all of our stories stem back to the same fundamental needs…
“At the end of the day, we all want the same things:
We all want love.
We all want to be seen.
We all want to feel like we belong.
And, we all want to feel like we aren’t alone in what we’re dealing with.
If you break down shame, the root cause is that you feel like you’re the only one. If there were less taboo halos around topics like anxiety, race, and miscarriage we’d all raise our hands say ‘Me too! I’ve dealt with that. Here are some tips.’ It would create so much more comfort around the human experience.”
Learn how to tap into your feminine and masculine energy
An important step in our path to owning and sharing our stories is feeling welcomed to be our whole selves.
One of the lenses we discussed this through is Jessica’s personal mission to reshape how we perceive femininity and masculinity; And, how by creating a world where we all feel safe expressing our thoughts and experiences, we can foster a more connected and inclusive society. Here’s a glimpse of how she explains it…
“It’s not about gender. It’s not about men vs. women. It’s about conditioning.
It’s not good for society that from a young age boys are told that emotions are weak and you should follow a rational path.
We have to rebrand the feminine and masculine so we are empowered to be both. We need men to exercise their feminine energy just as much we need women to better understand their masculine energy.
If you’re human, you have both of these qualities. It’s about finding the delicate balance between the two… Those two energies are unifiers. They’re what make us all the same soul.
The biggest challenge and opportunity we have is to empower both men and women, boys and girls to embrace both.”
I appreciated Jessica’s perspective on this as our individual journeys to embody both, and ultimately feel whole, are not only a profound step in our own becoming, but as she beautifully encapsulated, essential to our wellbeing — “Health isn’t just about how we feel in our bodies. It’s about how we feel in the world.”