The wellness industry may be a relatively recent mainstream phenomenon, but it is far from new. The term “wellness” was popularized back in the late 1950s, but since then, a major difference between health and wellbeing has been drawn. While researchers describe good health as an absence of illness, they describe wellness as an active and ongoing pursuit that primarily focuses on improving the self as defined by the self.
As wellness has grown and morphed into an estimated $1.5 trillion industry, this image-conscious version of health has held fast. Wellness promises countless ways of improving the self. This can be through greater physical flexibility, mental clarity, a stronger body, clearer skin, and shinier hair. Pursuing these attributes under the guise of wellness is the key to unlocking a life free from insecurities and anxieties.
While being on the constant move to improve yourself can be good, but the reality is that many aspects of the “health and wellness” lifestyle are actually toxic. We have perpetuated food restriction, special diets, supplement protocols, and practitioner-hopping so much that they feel completely normal.
We are constantly surrounded by the promotion of this culture, which causes us to strive even further to follow a “healthy” routine. We watch videos posted by our favorite influencers about what they eat in a day or see advertisements for the latest cruelty-free makeup brand on our Instagram feed. The image-conscious version of health that has received much praise is why so many of us take part in acts of “self-care.”
Wellness can be ‘toxic’
The wellness industry targets two types of people: those who want a real-life change and people who adhere to societal pressures because of what they think they are “supposed” to look like. Whether it’s about wanting to lose weight, looking for a way to ease the mind, or hoping for clearer skin, these wellness brands know exactly how to target these groups into buying their products.
People always want change and perfectionism hence this urge allows them to be vulnerable. Whatever form perfectionism comes in, whether self-directed, driven by social pressure, or directed outwards at others, it is less about being perfect and more about having incredibly high standards and punishing yourself for not achieving them.
There is no psychological flexibility, leaving you prone to anxiety, hypervigilance, and obsession if you slip up on your path to meeting your own exacting standards. The reason why many people pursue perfection is that they believe themselves to be fundamentally not good enough in the first place. This belief is a core motivator for people getting into wellness.
While the superficial marketing of the wellness industry may not hurt those who are in to keep up with the latest trends, it could be detrimental to those seeking real change. Wellness brands post aesthetically pleasing pictures and videos of food, skincare routines, yoga poses, etc. This entices customers into paying for these services to live a better, healthier life.
However, the content that these brands post often promotes unrealistic expectations. This only leads to customers putting more pressure on themselves, resulting in eating disorders, anxiety, obsession, and other psychological issues.