View this post on Instagram
I never thought that I would care so much about health.
From the shots slammed at after-hours parties in my early 20s, to a diet of bagels and endless iced coffee that got me through college, wellness has not always been my default.
But here I am years later. I’m still no expert or the vision of perfect health, but I have become obsessed with sifting out the truth in the wellness world from lies (or even just good marketing).
It’s no secret that in the past 10 years, health and wellness has moved to the forefront of our minds and become a multi-trillion dollar industry. While athleisure brands, health-supplement companies, and “superfood” distributors have been expanding and booming in profit, there seems to be a decline in mental health within our society.
I am all for businesses being successful that have amazing things to share and sell. But sometimes, it can be difficult to discern what is actually healthy and what is just being promoted for profit (remember those “Kale” sweatshirts anyone…?).
That being said, there are many positive things about wellness brands. In my explorations, I have found a love of natural fiber clothing as an alternative to petroleum-based fabrics, I take a mushroom powder with my morning coffee, and I have even collaborated in the creation of CBD-based beauty products. Many of my friends either dabble with incorporating wellness products into their lifestyles or are even healers and practitioners within the community.
The wellness industry and those in it are not the root of the problem. They do, however, point to symptoms of a larger issue. While the profits are soaring, we are encountering a culture that is becoming progressively more and more unwell.
We live in an era where many will find solace in a well-worded informational graphic rather than seek much needed therapy from a professional. Where images of tan, beautiful people eating fruit on a beach are so readily available for our consumption, while food shortages and increased prices have permeated even the most affluent cities. Maybe it’s an insight into the lives that people so desperately crave. We want health, radiance, purpose, and peace more than almost anything else, yet many of us feel so far from those desires.
We convince ourselves that buying the thing, taking the supplement, watching the reel will get us that much closer to being “well.” But that’s the catch…there is no ideal version of wellness. There is no “top tier” as much as some programs, coaches, or influencers would like to say differently. In fact, it is downright dangerous to our well-being to promote “only good vibes” or toxic positivity as a way to be “well” when we are faced with difficult, not-so-good-vibe situations at home and around the world.
True wellness is wealth: an abundance of our own vitality, discovered through a deeply personal journey.
And that’s not to say we should feel shame for our desires or the ways in which we find pleasure. Get the new thing! Try the diet! Have the $18 smoothie. But do so with the knowledge that it doesn’t necessarily make you any more or less well.
This idealism of wellness is what is driving more brands to “greenwash” their businesses in hopes of convincing you that you will be healthier simply by supporting them. The current of dis-ease permeating through the glamor of neutral-toned Instagram grids and flashy retreat advertisements is nothing new. It’s been slowly growing despite the huge uptick of interest in being well.
While the huge shifts in attuning to self-care and personal health within our society are important, there are consequences of seeing these shifts as no more than a ‘trend.” Lots of things are considered trendy. The 90s and early 2000s have been back in full swing, and along with it the glamorized grunge or flashy pop-queen aesthetic of the past. One that was so often painfully thin, and impossibly airbrushed. It begs the question, do we actually desire health, or do we desire to be seen as healthy, relevant, and on-trend by society?
When we see those in the wellness industry going along with these trends, we subconsciously begin to equate that with wellness also. We start to see life-changing practices, shared knowledge, and nutritional medicine as fleeting. We disregard the centuries of knowledge that many wellness practices have been based on such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine. While the herbs or modalities that many western practitioners use on their platforms are thousands of years old, we often consume them as if they are the newest fad or craze.
There are many ramifications for treating these sources without reverence and as if they are limitless. We can glance at the supplement industry alone to see the ways in which lands have been ravaged for the sake of “natural alternatives.” Such issues speak to the core facet of our collective identity:
We do not see ourselves as worthy of longevity.
It has become so easy to be focused on the speed at which we can obtain a result, how little of our precious time we must dedicate to something in order to make a difference. This pattern spirals out to other large issues in the political and activism realms as well. It’s easy to post a moving statement and move on when the rest of the world seems to enable and encourage this behavior.
In many ways, it all comes back to if we are willing to make real shifts in the way we live our lives. Changes in ourselves and the world around us cannot occur without commitment and dedication. Our two least favorite words, right?
Making the choice to commit to yourself, your overall vision of health, the nourishment your body is asking for is not a trend, a fad, or short term. It is a lifestyle change. And while there is not necessarily instantaneous profit to be made off of long-term decisions, even those businesses “just in it for the money” should be hoping that you’ll be around long enough to keep investing in what they’re selling. And if they’re not, you should be questioning their intentions hard.
Those in the wellness industry that actually have your highest good in mind know that their work is deeper than satisfying your impulse to be well “now.” They know that true wellness doesn’t rely on the trends of society. Many believe that focusing on long-term individual and collective wellness is what will change the world. Recognizing and listening to your deepest intuition as you approach different platforms, modalities, and ways of being well can help you filter out what doesn’t align and make better decisions for your overall health.
The shifts within our world don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, but by prioritizing yourself within this paradigm, you can cultivate a self that overflows with the health, happiness, and strength you desire.
Be well with yourself first, and watch how the “trends” seem to fall away.