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Katara McCarty

Source: EXHALE App / EXHALE App

Social media is a key part of our day-to-day lives, but without monitoring our digital wellness, our mental health can suffer exponentially. We receive news from social media platforms without assessing our mental health capacity and it can take a toll on us more than we let on, especially when it comes to racism, the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice issues. Luckily, anti-racism coach, author and podcast host Katara McCarty is dedicated to cultivating cultures of belonging for BIWOC through one of her latest ventures, – EXHALE, the first emotional wellbeing app for and by Black women.

Birthed from the nature of Black and brown communities “holding their breath” and driven by the fact that the health and wellness space is predominantly led by white people, EXHALE is available via the App Store and Google Play.

We had the chance to speak with McCarty about the inspiration behind EXHALE, her personal self-love practices and her growth plans for the app amongst Black and brown women specifically.

HelloBeautiful: What inspired the creation of the EXHALE app?

Katara McCarty: The idea for the app came from a place of grieving with my community over the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd as well as how COVID-19 was impacting our community disproportionately. I kept asking myself, “What can I do to relieve the stress and trauma we are experiencing as a community?” I stay healthy through emotional well-being, and by sharing this practice in a way that illuminates a shared and specific reality that my community faces, I thought creating the app would (in a small way) help lift the burden in my community. By teaching Black, Indigenous, Women of Color (BIWOC) how to rid their nervous systems of trauma, I can do something about the disparities. I can help them hit the pause button and heal our collective hurt.

HB: Why do you believe Black women and women of color especially need this app?

KM: Black women and women of color are some of the most marginalized in our society. Because of the intersections in our lives, we not only face oppression for being women, we also face systemic racism that brings anxiety, stress, and trauma. 

HB: Why do you believe it’s so important for Black women to practice self-care during these times?

KM: It is very important, actually imperative, to our survival. Self-care and emotional well-being help to get stress and trauma out of our bodies. When we hold on to stress and trauma, it sits in our bodies and can make us physically sick.

HB: How does having your mental health intact make you feel beautiful and aligned?

KM: I believe if we make our mental health a priority, we become more aligned to our truest, most authentic self. We also gain tools to manage the stressors that weigh us down and cause us to be disconnected from ourselves. 

HB: How do you practice self-love and self-care? What’s the difference?

KM: I believe that practicing self-care cultivates self-love. And vice versa; as you practice self-love, you cultivate self-care practices. 

HB: What is your hope for the future of EXHALE?

KM: I hope the EXHALE app serves as a place that BIWOC can visit as often as they’d like to find refuge and healing during their emotional well-being journey.

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