ARTWORK BY: HARRIET LEE-MERRION
Wellness, the goal we all aim to achieve. The state of being in good health. But what actually quantifies good health? What means does one use to measure overall health? Wellness as a whole can be rather vague as it differs greatly between each individual. Everyone’s idea of health looks different, as it should. That being said, more often than not we are being sold an idea of wellness that is unrealistic and borderline orthorexic. So how exactly is one supposed to differentiate and navigate the torrential downpour of the wellness industry? Let us explore.
These are modern times we live in with information aplenty and misinformation by the boatload. “Holistic” science better known as pseudo-science has had quite the impact over the wellness industry in the past recent years. Nowadays, anyone with an internet connection can pass themselves off as a holistic wellness guru or worse a nutritionist. While companies shove the latest acne curing, stress reducing, hormone balancing, weight loss supplement down our throats. Products such as magic mushrooms, activated charcoal, and jade eggs march across our screens, demanding attention. Leaving us to question, do we really love ourselves if we don’t “buy-in.”
THE INSECURITY CONSTRUCT
Contrary to popular belief, the wellness industry doesn’t want to sell products. The industry wants to sell a definition of what wellness looks like and it just so happens to involve their products. The selling point always starts at a deficit. They have to make you feel like something is wrong so they can sell you something to make it right. Which makes being vague quite useful. Minor symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, and acne that can have innumerable causes are used as selling points. It’s no coincidence that companies remain unclear about who can really benefit from the use of their products. They mislead consumers by being as vague as humanly possible about the genuine effects of their products. Deceptive words such as detox, anti-inflammatory, and hormone balancing are used to sell herbs and supplements. Fun Fact, none of these words hold any legitimate merit in the scientific community.
“The body is constantly filtering the toxins in alcohol, food, and medicines, not storing them.”Maria Adams
If you’re breathing, sweating, peeing, or pooping then you are detoxing. Do not even get me started on the work the liver and kidneys do for us. Also, spoiler alert hormone balancing means nothing medically. Even if it did, it still wouldn’t change the fact that real treatment requires a formal diagnosis and use of hormone therapy or androgen inhibitors. Now, while many herbs and supplements do have benefits, they by no means are intended to treat or create solutions for the flashy words used to sell them. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA so the claims being made are often quite outlandish.
The wellness industry is peddling exactly what everyone desires, a solution outside of modern medicine for the myriad of issues that rack their day-to-day. Who honestly doesn’t wanna be leaner, calmer, dewier, and overall well rounded? The wellness industry veils themselves in good-intentions and well-to-dos to come off as an empowering friend shielding you from big pharma through “natural solutions.” When encountered by these wellness companies consumers, mistakenly air on the side of optimism. The use of well-meaning products to improve health often disarm initial skepticism and foster a false sense of security. This plays into a bigger unsound “truth.” The oversimplification that everything natural is effective/good for you and everything synthetic is poisonous for you.
The “Grand Design”
The wellness industry derives its core dogma from the notion that the human body is omnipotent and will wisely try to communicate with you. That every micro symptom is a sign from the body with an underlying cause and requires an immediate solution. That anything can be fixed with some perfect natural diet, supplement, or lifestyle. This belief triggers excessive panic in people from seemingly minor symptoms. People begin to become detectives trying to unravel the clues of their body. The need for control over their body is the very driving force that ironically leaves them out of control.
This way of thinking is common for the very reason that it is appealing. Believing that if we eat great and live this “perfect” lifestyle we will never get sick is far more comforting than the cruel reality. This same belief that endows people with pseudo control of their health is the very belief that burdens them with the blame. The minute sickness inevitably arises people blame themselves and desperately seek out solutions. Thus creating a self-perpetuating cycle. This “grand design” concept is how the wellness industry has been able to sling useless trash for the past several years and get away with it.
It’s hard to accept but illness often happens without cause or reason. There are times when it is just a matter of bad luck and no amount of essential oils, juice cleanses, or superfood supplementation can cure it. What it all boils down to is the realization that we aren’t in control. It doesn’t matter how much kale you eat. It doesn’t matter how much water you drink. One day, regardless of what you do, you will die. This doesn’t mean stop caring about your health. It means stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be the epitome of it! It’s liberating if you allow it to be. Imagine not being so hyper-critical of every little thing you ate or overthinking every little mild discomfort as a “sign.” Imagine forsaking this quest for supreme health and just allowing yourself to “BE.” It’s up to you to find the balance between ease and effort. We are often not in control of extenuating circumstances but we are in control of choices. How we respond and how we react are what really define us. These choices provide an opportunity for either liberation or subjugation.
Where do we go from here
Understand that while many wellness supplements offer benefits, they by no means cure anything. If they did, they would be served over the prescription counter. Be realistic and be discerning, since these companies by law don’t have to be transparent (not FDA regulated) it’s on you to do the research. The reality of the situation is that blindly trusting bad alternative medicine references doesn’t qualify as independent thinking. If anything, it makes you a more obnoxious sheep. We, consumers, are partially to blame for the current state of the industry. By not demanding solid peer-reviewed research we’ve practically encouraged if not enabled this issue.
Money spent on wellness is not time spent on wellness. The correlation between the two must end in order to achieve true simplicity and satisfaction in your pursuit of health. In order to reclaim a personal narrative, consumers need to redefine what wellness is to them. Rather than buying (literally) into whatever the industry tells you to believe. Ask yourself, what is wellness to me? What does wellness look like on me? Here’s the catch, be honest and reasonable about what you’re willing to do. Is wellness really going to the gym 5 days a week, purchasing 25$ coconut yogurt, or is it decompressing from technology for the next thirty minutes? Often times some of the most impactful choices we make for our wellness don’t involve spending a dime.