Being seen and valued is a critical component in our self-love journeys. Actress Lynn Whitfield wants young women of color to know that there’s power in having full control over your decisions and your body, and she joined Planned Parenthood’s Be Seen Campaign to help get this important word out to the youth.

“It was really an honor to be asked to be involved to participate in the Planned Parenthood Be Seen Campaign,” says Whitfield. “It is so important for young Black and Brown women to know that we see them. We see who they are. We see into them. We see their aspirations. We see their desires.”

The campaign comes to life through audio spots from artists Rebecca Black, Big Freedia, and Paulina Rubio, and a documentary-style video series featuring a voiceover by Whitfield that follows the lives of four inspiring young people, as they move through life with confidence and joy. The campaign appears on Spotify, Pandora, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and podcasts using video and audio ads.

“Planned Parenthood sees you, the whole you,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We know how young people, especially Black and Latina women, have been carrying us through this last year  — in the midst of a pandemic and racial reckoning.  Many of you have felt invisible at times. Planned Parenthood wants you to know that we are here — to advocate for you and provide you with health care, and to help you become all you can and will be.”

Being a mother of a millennial, Whitfield shared with ESSENCE that she knows first-hand just how critical it can be for young women of color to truly feel seen and heard.

“Experience is what’s important,” says Whitfield. “Dreams and aspirations, the possibilities of what your life can be, often times, health and other choices can stand in the way of those things. Everybody needs to be surrounded by caring people and we need to be able to go somewhere and have someone hear us, whatever it may be. It could be the smallest of things. It doesn’t have to be so grand and big. It doesn’t even have to be a big problem. Knowledge is everything.”

For far too long, Black women have been overlooked and considered to be unworthy of the same equalities as other women, our pain ignored. Whitfield opened up about how unfair she believes life can be for some women of color and why work like this can be so critical for them.

“We’re seen to be strong, but I have no idea what would have people believe that we’re not in pain, that we’re not vulnerable, that we’re not delicate,” said Whitfield during an emotional Instagram Live interview with ESSENCE. “That we don’t need to be considered. That we don’t need to have someone look dead into our eyes and discuss our health—our sexual health, our reproductive health, our breast health. We deserve people who are not looking down on us, people who understand who you are.”

Now, more than ever, Whitfield wants these young women to know that their personal health and emotional health are tied to their passion about changing their world.

“There’s a lot going on in our world right now and a lot that young people are up against and being confronted with,” says Whitfield. “And, so, to walk into a place that supports your sexual and reproductive health is important. Because when you really think about it, health is really at the center of social change. Without your health, you cannot reach your full potential. Without it we do not have very much.”

Therefore, Whitfield continues, “When you are truly seen, when you have full control over your decisions and your body, you can fight for what you’re passionate about and create the society you wish to live in.”

The team at Planned Parenthood was very intentional about why they chose Whitfield to join them in spreading this knowledge. “We’re thrilled that Lynn Whitfield has joined the Be Seen campaign,” Johnson continues. “Her work, artistic expression, and impact on the culture is a perfect representation of what is possible when we are supported, empowered, and seen for who we truly are.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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