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March 15, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Real Self-Care: A Virtual Evening with Dr. Pooja Lakshmin & Dr. Kali Cyrus


March 15, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Books & Books, Women and Children First, and Gemma Women present…

A Virtual Evening with


in conversation with Dr. Kali Cyrus


Real Self-Care : A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness (Crystals, Cleanses, and Bubble Baths Not Included)

(Penguin Life, $28)

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023, 7 PM ET | LIVE via Crowdcast


From women’s mental health specialist and New York Times contributor Pooja Lakshmin, MD, comes a long-overdue reckoning with the contradictions of the wellness industry and a paradigm-shifting program for practicing real self-care that will empower, uplift, and maybe even start a revolution.

About the Book:

From women’s mental health specialist and New York Times contributor Pooja Lakshmin, MD, comes a long-overdue reckoning with the contradictions of the wellness industry and a paradigm-shifting program for practicing real self-care that will empower, uplift, and maybe even start a revolution.

You may have noticed that it’s nearly impossible to go even a couple days without coming across the term self-care. A word that encompasses any number of lifestyle choices and products—from juice cleanses to yoga workshops to luxury bamboo sheets—self-care has exploded in our collective consciousness as a panacea for practically all of women’s problems.

Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Pooja Lakshmin finds this cultural embrace of self-care incomplete at best and manipulative at worst. Fixing your troubles isn’t simple as buying a new day planner or signing up for a meditation class. These faux self-care practices keep us looking outward—comparing ourselves with others or striving for a certain type of perfection. Even worse, they exonerate an oppressive social system that has betrayed women and minorities.

Real self-care, in contrast, is an internal, self-reflective process that involves making difficult decisions in line with our values, and when we practice it, we shift our relationships, our workplaces, and even our broken systems.

In Real Self-Care, Lakshmin helps readers understand what a real practice of caring for yourself could—and does—look like. Using case studies from her practice, clinical research, and the down-to-earth style that she’s become known for, Lakshmin provides a step-by-step program for real and sustainable change and solace. Packed with actionable strategies to deal with common problems, Real Self-Care is a complete roadmap for women to set boundaries and move past guilt, treat themselves with compassion, get closer to themselves, and assert their power. The result—having ownership over one’s own life— is nothing less than a personal and social revolution.


About the Author:

Pooja Lakshmin MD is a board-certified psychiatrist, New York Times contributor, and a leading voice at the intersection of mental health and gender, focused on helping women and people from marginalized communities escape the tyranny of self-care. In 2020, Lakshmin founded Gemma — a physician led women’s mental health education platform centering impact and equity. She maintains an active private practice, where she treats women struggling with burnout, perfectionism, and disillusionment, as well as clinical conditions like depression and anxiety. Having gone down the rabbit hole of extreme wellness herself, Real Self-Care is Lakshmin’s answer to the juice cleanses, the gratitude lists, and the bubble baths — not only to care for ourselves for real but, in turn, to transform our broken culture.

About the Moderator:

Kali Cyrus MD MPH is a psychiatrist, a co-founder of Gemma, and an advocate for mental health and health equity who brings a unique approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a Stanford, Emory, UIC, and Yale trained physician, a public health thought leader, and a featured expert on Season 3 of Showtime’s Couples Therapy. Her work is informed by her personal experience as a Black, Queer woman. Dr. Cyrus is a Board Member of the Committee to protect Medicare, and currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In her academic work, Dr. Cyrus has developed curricula to help medical trainees understand and respond to oppression. Pairing her deep expertise with humor, Dr. Cyrus brings humanity to challenging topics and works with individuals and corporations around issues of race, identity, and conflict.

About Gemma Women:

Access to mental health services is more difficult than ever — care is expensive and waitlists are never-ending. In addition, traditional mental health services rarely take into account the systems of oppression that women and marginalized groups face – whether it’s a lack of affordable childcare, the gender wage gap, and or how racism impacts individuals.
Gemma was founded in 2020 by author and psychiatrist Dr. Pooja Lakshmin MD after she noticed a gap in accessible digital resources tailored to women’s mental health, and hoped to build a new type of solution. In 2022, Dr. Kali Cyrus MD, MPH and Dr. Lucy Hutner MD joined the Gemma leadership team. Gemma is building a new type of women’s mental health community — one that empowers, validates, and supports women through the big and little life touch points so they are buffered against injustice — and can spearhead meaningful change in themselves, their families, and their communities.
Gemma is a digital platform that centers education as a modality to support women’s mental health. At Gemma, we prioritize teaching about how culture and social structures impact women’s emotional lives, while also providing evidence-based conversations, community, and courses to help women cope with stress, inequity, and structural violence. For more information: https://www.gemmawomen.com/