Poosh, Goop and Our Obsession With Wellness
The wellness industry, which is now worth a staggering $4.2 trillion globally, just got a little more crowded thanks to the launch of Kourtney Kardashian’s health and lifestyle website, Poosh. Not to be confused with Gwenyth Paltrow’s similarly sounding Goop, Poosh (why am I typing these non-words seriously shoot me), is an e-commerce website covering everything from healthy recipes to non-toxic beauty, organic wine, workout hacks and tools for mindfulness. The website was inspired by Kourtney’s six-year-old daughter, Penelope Disick, “As the epitome of the Poosh girl, Penelope plays by her own rules, colours outside the lines and celebrates life with an infectious confidence and ease.” Okay not to be negative, but don’t all six-year-olds colour outside the lines on account of not being able to colour *inside the lines*….?
It’s been a wild couple of years for health and wellness. Between acupuncture and CBD gummy bears, plant-based burgers, cryotherapy and adaptogens, this booming industry is constantly inventing new ways to improve our serotonin, sleep, sex-life, stress and skin. At Sephora alone I found a $9 coconut-oil dental floss, $38 “Sex Dust”, $49 matcha collagen powder and a $58 rose quartz Gua Sha tool which is “a beautifying stone designed to promote feelings of wellbeing, de-puff and visibly sculpt your face.” Good Lord. The space is nothing if not controversial: just last month a direct-to-consumer digital healthcare platform, Hers, became famous for all the wrong reasons by positioning themselves as a way to get your hands on serious medications like Propranolol via the internet without a prescription or a doctor’s appointment. The website marketed the drug using the image of an air-brushed model placing a tiny blue pill in her mouth as if she was dropping an Ecstasy tab in the club, with an ad that read “Nervous about your big date? Propranolol can help stop your shaky voice, sweating palms and racing heart beat!”. The issue (well there’s like a million), was that Propranolol is actually a beta-blocker intended to treat high blood pressure, and is occasionally prescribed by doctors as an off-label treatment for anxiety. Not the other way around (the company has since redacted the advertisement and apologised). It increasingly feels like our obsession with wellness has led us to believe that every bodily function is a symptom to be fixed – a lack of wellness that needs to be made up for.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this crap. My obsession with wellness started with a dismal health diagnosis at 16-years-old and continues today with a love of everything and anything promising to improve the way I feel. Capital F. My relationship with wellness is a good one; my worth is not determined by the quality of my skin, but the quality of my skin is a direct reflection of how kind I’m being to my body on a whole, and thus they are intrinsically linked. However we’d be remiss to not acknowledge that “wellness” has also become an industry afforded to only a select few. A platform of privilege excluding the very people who need it most.
Joe Holder, health and wellness consultant and Nike Master Trainer calls it “a new-age health renaissance”. And yet, despite it being an industry he has directly benefitted from, Holder doesn’t see it as something to necessarily celebrate. In an interview with the Plant Proof Podcast he said, “What we’ve created is these reverse-wellness ghettos where the people who already had access to health and wellness are getting even more access, and those who need it the most are shut out from the movement due to a lack of wealth or privilege.” It’s these barriers to entry that are the most problematic. Wellness has become such an affluent buzzword that it’s almost devoid of meaning. Wellness is now synonymous with an obsession with vanity and with self, rather than a definition that expands beyond our own experience to include the wellbeing of our community, the food that’s most affordable, social injustice and access to safe spaces.
How can the wellness industry increase its value and accessibility without increasing its price and exclusivity? That should be the focus now, because it’s a question that has yet to be answered. Maybe all they need is a Poosh in the right direction.
(Sorry I couldn’t help myself).