Is The Wellness Industry Capitalising On Our Obsession With “Self-Care”?
Someone once said, “Everything is amazing, and nobody is happy.”
They were talking about the 21st century and modern society in general; this idea that we have all these amazing things like mobile phones and online banking that make our lives so much easier and yet everyone feels like sh*t.
But I think the same quote could have been used in reference to the billion-dollar wellness industry that has recently become impossible to escape. It’s the industry responsible for commercialising green juices and reishi mushrooms and essential oils and healing crystals and Matcha powder. The industry that, particularly in the last few years, has caused all of us to go a little crazy. And by crazy, I mean insane.
CBD oil was my breaking point. One morning I woke up and my entire Instagram feed was littered with “CBD chocolates” and “CBD-infused gummy bears” and I had no idea what it was other than it had something to do with marijuana and was being consumed by every health nut in LA with anxiety and a Soul Cycle membership. Apparently CBD oil stands for Cannbidiol, the chemical compound found in hemp and other members of the puff pass family. Except there’s no puffing or passing with CBD oil, instead it’s being sold in body lotions and praised for it’s “anti-acne properties”. It was at that moment that I realised self-care was officially out of control.
Google Trends revealed that the term “self-care” peaked in November 2016, the month Donald Trump was elected President of the United States (lol), but it’s not a new concept, it just hasn’t always had a title. Historically it was things your grandma would enforce, like eating spinach so you’d have strong muscles, or finishing your carrots at dinner so that you could see in the dark (grandma was also a pathological liar). It was mundane tasks like brushing your teeth twice a day and maybe attempting to floss a few times a week. But we’ve since overcomplicated these simple concepts and now it’s not just brushing your teeth – it’s using charcoal toothpaste. And it’s not just charcoal toothpaste, it’s tongue-scrapers and oil-pulling. And I think the main reason it’s happened is because the traditional forms of looking after ourselves just aren’t that sexy and can’t be sold at Wholefoods for $27 a pop. Wanna know what drink has more health benefits than kombucha, ginger tonic, matcha tea and Bulletproof coffee?
Water, guys. Literally no one drinks it anymore.
The other reason we’ve fallen down this rabbit hole of self-improvement is because we’ve been convinced we need improving. It’s like that show on E!, Botched, where the patient started with a little Botox and six months later is asking for two of their Goddamn ribs to be removed. What I’ve realised is that as soon as you hop on the self-care train you start noticing more and more parts of yourself that need “caring” for. I think it’s worth acknowledging that a lot of this modern self-care etiquette is being carried out by girls who don’t particularly like themselves.
As for me, I fall somewhere in the middle of this mess. I’m obsessed with feeling happy. I believe it is our birthright. It’s the reason I prioritise sleep and exercise, it’s the reason I eat a really specific kind of way and surround myself with really specific kinds of people. But I’m also highly sensitive and need to continuously check-in with myself to make sure that the things I do stem from a place of self-respect and not self-loathing. I need to make sure that I’m not just doing X because I’ve found another part of myself that needs some fine-tuning.
I suggest the next time you find yourself buying into the hype of a glorified marijuana that promises to make your skin glow that you do the same.