Research shows Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer than any other racial group—a relatively unknown finding. However, thanks to the collaboration between Black Women’s Health Imperative and Project Health Equality, we now have Cerving Confidence. This collaboration, with Ciara at the forefront as its spokeswoman, encourages Black women to commit to their well-woman exams as a part of self-care, and to protect themselves against cervical cancer. ESSENCE had the pleasure of chatting with the Grammy Award-winning singer about her involvement and the ways she plans to normalize the conversation around cervical issues.
Cerving Confidence, quite the clever play off of cervix and serving looks, wants Black women to feel empowered when inquiring about ways to lead a healthier life. When Ciara learned about the statistics facing Black women, particularly that Black women are two times more likely to die from cervical cancer, she was taken aback. “Understanding just simply by not getting checked, not doing our checkups and scheduling our well-woman exams, shows how impactful that is.” Though the conversation is centered on the woman’s cervix, she doesn’t want the discourse to feel distressing. “I feel like it’s time to change the narrative,” she says. “I think is there’s an opportunity to flip this thing here. Let it not be an uncomfortable conversation or an uncomfortable experience.”
Speaking to comfortability, we asked the Cerving Confidence spokeswoman in what ways could we talk to our girlfriends about their checkups. “Sharing our vulnerability is a great thing, and you can kind of do it together,” she suggests. “Like obviously you won’t be able to at the same time, but you still can like make your appointments together. You can make it fun.” And while the Cerving part of the name is extremely significant, it’s also important to recognize the Confidence. “What I enjoy about this campaign is the idea of serving confidence right now because it really is an opportunity to be your most confident self when you know your health and you know your status,” Wilson shares. “And also knowing that you can prevent cervical cancer, right? By actually doing your exam, getting your women wellness exam, setting your appointments for your HPV tests and your pap screening. When you do that, it’s game-changing and you can really walk confidently.” Wilson wants women to take initiative and know that sometimes it all it takes is one person saying, “Let’s go, join me on this.”
Being that one of her favorite things to do is to use her platform to educate, the mother of three talked us through how she herself got serious about her own health journey. “Well, I think for me, especially after having babies, I do my annual exam for my well woman exam,” she says. “But also for my total health and wellness, I do my EKG checks. My calcium, my magnesium, everything. I’m checking all levels and it’s the best feeling in the world. I want to witness every moment I can for my kids. Like, it’s so important to me, life is obviously very precious and it can sometimes be short as well.” The singer continues that she wants to maximize the time she has with her family and focus on the precious memories they’re able to create.
Part of normalizing cervical care is aligning it with self-care. Wilson made it known that getting her hair done and receiving hot stone massages is one of her favorite things to do. And though we know her as the super glam, stunning pop star, she wasn’t always this confident with her body. “You know, I used to be really skinny and super muscular. And walk hunched over because I was tall.” But then Wilson goes on to say, “There’s two phases. When I’m in my twenties, like mid-twenties, I’m like, okay, I’m feeling good. I feel like I’m like in a really good place. And then when you cross 30, it’s just something about your confidence just goes up. I feel like my best.” According to the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Project Health Equality, the best way to detect the disease is getting your Pap+HPV test in between ages 30-65.
Cerving Confidence is dedicated to helping women find power in taking care of themselves and their cervical health. Outside of “serving” looks, Wilson wants to instill lessons from this campaign in her kids. “I think it’s important for my kids to really know who they are,” she says. “And to know they have everything they need to thrive, survive and really be their best selves and their truest selves. We’re also spiritual in our households. We always talk about having Jesus at the center of it all because I think is important for my kids to have a spiritual foundation. I want do whatever it takes for them to see me lead by example on how you can really achieve any goal.”
The need for an initiative like Cerving Confidence goes beyond anything surface level. To provide Black women with life-saving information in a fun and interactive way is needed now more than ever. Long-time racial, ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities still exist and are ever-present in the impact of cervical cancer amongst Black women.
Black women, schedule that wellness exam, your pap test, your HPV test—normalize these practices in order to provide better care for our community. Cerving Confidence gives us the tools and knowledge to start the upkeep. Participate in #CervingConfidence on social media, women can visit the photo booth on the Cerving Confidence website, and visit cerving.bwhi.org to learn more about cervical cancer screening.