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Oh, Mary

Un-Well

December 9, 2019
BY:
Heather Turner

An integral part of my job is to know what’s current in the vast world of health and wellness, and it’s no secret that we’re in a “Wellness Revolution.” In fact, some might call it an epidemic

Every revolution starts with a revolt. In this case, the revolt stems from the rejection of the chemical-laden, processed “foods” that have become a dietary staple for the better part of the 20th century. These foods, we now know, are responsible for much of our current-day illness and disease. And so, we arrive where we are now: in the Age of Wellness – complete with the Wellness Influencers, Goopsters, Green Companies and Clean Label Warriors, all jumping on the Wellness Wagon like it’s never going out of style. But as I see lately – it just might be.

While this doesn’t mean we should run back to blue Gatorade and rubbery cheese spreads, the issue is challenged because said Wellness Movement is simultaneously evolving against the backdrop of social media – the land of filters, editing and curation. Additionally, this same paradigm is also precisely why it has taken off with such momentum. Polished wellness began to develop an unattainable, inaccessible and exclusionary tint. The thin, attractive and “influential” were the ones slinging potions and powders, becoming pseudo-celebrities with their shining hair, glowing cheeks and fresh nails. 

BUT, as we are also entering into the Age of Inclusivity, it was only a matter of time before a Revolt within the Revolution started to simmer. In fact, I’ve noticed that some of the very people at the core of the Wellness Movement were actually starting this conversation about the unwell aspects of our Wellness world. A revolt by the very leaders themselves, how exciting! A wonderful example of the organic unfolding of change and evolution – of revolution. How our social/digital media gives us a platform that creates discord and dissatisfaction on one hand, and then on the other, the ability to come to our own salvation. We live in interesting times. 

So far I’ve seen a NY/LA conference on this matter, alongside increasing rumblings on the accounts of the “well people” that I follow on social media. The conference, aptly named “Unwell”, is hosted by The Fullest founder Nikki Bostwick and was born out of her own journey toward wellness (or obsession as she puts it) and the struggles along the way. She invited numerous “top wellness influencers” to speak about their similar experiences as well, and it’s all very inspiring. They’re giving voice to the sentiment that the Wellness Lifestyle had begun to reflect an unrelenting pursuit of the unattainable goal of always being well, healthy and balanced – perfection in a certain sense. And even if pursued with the very best of intentions, it’s ultimately taking away from the very thing that we seek to find, causing stress and feelings of “less than”, of never quite getting “there”, of not having just the right adaptogen or pair of yoga pants, recipe, or running shoes.

And so what does this all mean, and why does this matter? I personally think it’s simply comforting. It’s a commentary on the times that we are in, the beauty and the curse of social and digital media. If things start becoming too powerful, perfect and unattainable, there will always be the group that rises up to keep it in check and call out the idealistic and unattainable and replace it with authentic, vulnerable, flawed, messy and human. And it’s comforting because we can. We’re not dominated anymore by the oligarchy of the media of the past – it is now social media, and we all have a voice. This is both a blessing and a curse, but at least it’s all us.