Why Community Is So Important to New Mom Jodie Turner-Smith
Growing up, my mother was a huge fan of political books. Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them was a particular favorite of hers, but It Takes a Village, written by former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, is one that sticks out in my mind. Probably because I remember there being so much press coverage about it. And while I got the gist of what the title was talking about, it took getting into my early 30s and seeing my friends have children to really start to understand what all that meant. Jodie Turner-Smith is living it right now.
The 34-year-old recently had her first child with husband Joshua Jackson, and the experience has been a journey, not only in understanding how much work it takes to raise a child and the help new mothers need (regardless of their station in life), but also what self-care means in a time when nothing seems to make sense.
When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020, none of us expected to spend the year in the throes of a pandemic and a racial reckoning in the United States. But if this year has taught us anything (besides the true meaning of cleanliness), it's driven the point home that self-care is absolutely essential.
Any distraction from the state of things is welcome. Many of us have been turning to beauty to soothe ourselves, whether it's being indulgent about our skin-care routines, babying our hair, or just filling our homes with things that smell good.
By now, we know that scents are powerful. And for some of us, they play a big role in our self-care routines. Whether we lavish ourselves with fragrant bath oils, light scented candles and let them burn all day, or we put on a bit of perfume before a Zoom meeting, fragrance has become a way for us to maintain normalcy in this terrible timeline we seem to be trapped in. It's the perfect time, indeed, for Gucci to release a new version of its fan-favorite (and Best of Beauty-winning) Bloom fragrance. Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori is the latest iteration of the scent, which brings forth woody floral notes, combined with scents of jasmine bud extract, tuberose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and musk.
It sounds dreamy when you describe it, and the actual scent matches. Its foundation is definitely rooted in the Gucci Bloom smell we all know and love, but this one is far spicer and a little moodier. If the original reminds you of spring, this version will give you heavy autumnal vibes — perfect for a date to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch. The scent has a sophistication and staying power that makes it an instant classic, as does the campaign, which Turner-Smith stars in alongside Anjelica Houston, Florence Welch, and designer Susie Cave. They pose in a garden that is reminiscent of something out of a Brontë novel, with giant, fortress-style stone bricks softened by blooms and bushes all around, and, of course, a pool. Every old-school garden needs a water feature.
But fantasies aside, the world we're living in now is very real, and even when you do have the access and resources to make yourself as comfortable as possible, everything can be a strain — especially when you have a newborn to take care of.
We spoke to Turner-Smith about it all. Her new campaign, how she's been using beauty as a form of self-care, what being a new mother has taught her about taking care of your body, and what women need from their communities at large.
ALLURE: Let's talk about the Gucci Bloom campaign. What is your relationship with fragrance? Can you remember your first perfume and how it made you feel?
JODIE TURNER-SMITH: I was always more of an essential oil person than a perfume person. Part of what I like about [Gucci] Bloom is that there is that kind of [vibe] in the way that I use it. Because with essential oils, you [can] use the flowers to make those.
Lavender is kind of my favorite scent — my signature scent. That's my strongest scent connection. Even from memory, smelling lavender provides that. It's calming and it's good for your mind. Every time I had to travel when I was pregnant, my doula would be like, "Take the lavender oil because that's going to help you as well to keep the germs off." I don't know how true it was, but I believe in it, I believe in that. My doula is a powerful Black woman, [so when she tells me something,] I'm like, "This is ancient knowledge, it's true, I believe it."
ALLURE: What's so nice about those kinds of scents is that they go so well with bodies. Your body chemistry takes it on and, yes, you'll smell lavender, it's like lavender and you.
JTS: Exactly. It doesn't overpower you, it melds with your pheromones and your scent.
ALLURE: You have amazing, gorgeous skin — we'd love to know a little bit about your skin-care routine.
JTS: It's important to moisturize, it's the most important thing. California is so dry, and so is my skin after having a baby, so I've just applying Aveeno Baby Balm. Right now, all of my skin-care products have "baby" on them. I try not to use anything that's going to irritate my daughter's skin.
I also have a new addition to my skin-care routine — I make my own facial cream now out of a serum of aloe vera and breast milk.
ALLURE: What have you been doing, or not doing, to your hair while we've been under the stay-at-home orders?
JTS: My hair's probably longer than it's been in a very long time because I usually keep cutting it shorter or have it cut into some kind of style, which I really haven't been able to do since I've been here. But I kind of am curious about growing it out longer, so I've just put braids in it, which is a protective style, which supports your hair growing. I'm just going with it, seeing what happens.
ALLURE: Speaking of hair, you've been known to play around with different styles and wigs. What are your top three wigs, and do they have names? I know a lot of folks who like to name theirs.
JTS: You know what? I don't actually give a name to my wigs, which is so funny… Oh, you know what? Maybe, in a way, I kind of do. It's not like the wig has the name, but it's like when I put the wig on, then I have a new name. I joke with my husband and I'm like… Because it's like he's dating a legion because there are all kinds of personalities in here, and they all come with a different wig.
ALLURE: Has your philosophy on beauty changed since you've become a mother?
JTS: My relationship with it has definitely changed in that it all needs to happen much faster. It's more about, what are the bare essentials? It's more about finding the purest elements of it now, and really riding with those. Everything now that I wear and everything that I do [needs] to be something that complements what I'm doing with my daughter. I don't want to wear anything that irritates her skin because she spends so much time close to my body, I don't want to wear anything that's going to be overpowering for her.
Everything that I am wearing, I know is going to be an introduction for her to that scent. Everything that I wear, I want it to be natural — not something that is going to be rough for her to deal with or rough against her. I [also] don't really wear as much lipstick for when I kiss her all the time.
ALLURE: What about beauty do you want your daughter to know as she grows?
JTS: I want to instill in her is that while many people will think what they're interacting with is your aesthetic beauty, the majority of what they're actually interacting with is what comes from inside.
That's what's the most important thing, and that is something that doesn't show up in your face. [It's] more than what she looks like — it's about how she feels. Which, to me, is really what beauty is about, it's more about how it feels, how I feel with what I wear and what I put on. How I feel is what character I'm embodying in this moment with my beauty, with the makeup that I'm going with, or how I feel inside is what motivates me to take care of my skin. It's a form of self-care, which, as a Black girl, she's going to need a lot of.
ALLURE: Are there any health and beauty tips your mom has given you over the years that you've stuck to?
JTS: [My mom is Jamaican,] I think, because in Jamaica, and especially when our parents would have been growing up there, and the food that they were eating and the purity of that. My mother [grew up] very poor, but [as I] would try to explain to my mom, I buy organic food because I have to buy organic food here, it's not like the food that you eat. I have to buy organic food here so I can eat the food that you were eating when you were growing up.
You know what I mean? Fresh and unaltered, and I think that a lot of the beauty starts there, and that's why Jamaican women and Jamaican people are so beautiful, it's because of what they're putting in their bodies. Because of my mother and her relationship to food and cooking, I've been eating pure Jamaican food.
ALLURE: Mmmm, rice and peas all the time.
JTS: I've probably a little bit too much meat going on and a little too much oxtail! I'm pretty sure that I've gained 15 pounds after having my baby because of all the foods that I've been eating! But anyway, I feel like, for my mother, I think that it kind of starts there — nourishing the body. That's what she has passed to me is a way to take care of yourself.
ALLURE: Right. And I'm sure she loves a bush tea.
JTS: Listen, my aunt Judy just mailed me all this lemongrass and soursop leaves so I could make tea with the soursop leaves. It's happening over here. At the end of the day, I believe that soursop is going to help my mental health, so I keep on with that.
ALLURE: I love soursop, especially the juice.
JTS: I have it a lot. And listen, the nanny is also Jamaican, so I have two Jamaican women in my house just giving me all the nourishment in the world. There's soursop juice in the fridge right now.
ALLURE: So right now we're in the middle of some crazy times, we're in a pandemic, we're in a social revolution. How are you finding time to take care of yourself, and what does self-care look like for you these days?
JTS: I'm really, really lucky that I have a lot of support around me. As I said before, my mom is here, and I'm also lucky to even have a nanny as well. And my husband, he has really built a village for me, and that's important for around me. Making sure that we could create was his number-one priority — creating a fortress around me. He ended up doing the biggest thing that has really supported me mentally and physically.
It just really further highlights to me how much of a problem it is that women are not just offered support, and really before and during, but especially after pregnancy. It is something that our society decided that is something that is only available to you should you have the financial means to provide that for yourself.
I had a postpartum doula as well, and so when I gave birth, this woman would come over and she would do an ayurvedic treatment on me and also make a meal. I didn't eat the meal because I've got Jamaican meals galore, but just that one-and-a-half to two hours of time that I would get every day, of someone just supporting me in taking care of my body and nourishing my body, was so impactful for my health and for my mental health. There were so many days where I would just cry, or I would just sleep. I recognize that my body had been through something so incredible, but I really desperately needed that [rest].
I think more of the deeper shame of our society that we don't support women in that way, that we just think, "Oh, they're doing so wonderful," and yet there's so many of them that don't have anybody to support them like that. They're on their own after going through something so incredible as bringing forth a child from their body into this world. They don't have someone to support and do the basic things [to take] care of them, let alone supporting them in figuring out who they are as a woman and what their mental health is like, giving them a massage, anything. For most of the women, nobody checks on you — six weeks after you've given birth, is when a doctor takes a look at you.
I, fortunately, did get a midwife — they come in and check on you weekly, they're in touch with you daily after you give birth for that first week, because you need support to feel like yourself, [or] as much like yourself [as you can].
It does take a village. And it could be done without one, but it's really fucking hard. I guess, early on, it was really important to me and to my husband that we created a different experience than the ones that our mothers had, and we are just trying our best to do that. A child can only benefit from having a community around it, and so many people don't have that community because, in so many ways, society fails to make that possible.
You can pick up a bottle of Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori eau de Parfum for $100 right now.
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