There’s someone you need to unfollow immediately.
You may have even unfollowed them once, already.
But they changed their hair and read some Pema Chodron and now they’re back, but they haven’t changed at all.
Psst, I’m talking about certain members of the Wellness Industry, formerly known as the Diet and Fitness Industry.
You see, a few years back, the diet and fitness industries noticed that trends were…well…shifting. And not necessarily in their favor. With people beginning to focus on Body Positivity and self love, the messages that had once brought in droves of customers were not working quite as well. There was questioning of whether the idea that a happy life and a tiny waistline were actually intrinsically linked. And most people were realizing, that wasn’t the case…
SO, the diet and fitness industries regrouped, put on some Mala beads, drank some kombucha, got some beachy waves, and jumped under the umbrella of Wellness.
Now, the concept of Wellness has been around forever. From Ayurveda to Meditation, the path to wellness is well paved with different ideas and techniques. In the words of the Global Wellness Institute, “wellness is a modern word with ancient roots.”
The term wellness actually refers to “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” IE: Jenny’s doctor was able to take her off statins, which shows her current regiment is helping her progress towards wellness. So, in a way, in makes sense that diet and exercise would be in the same category as wellness, right?
Well, sort of…while, yes, diet and exercise can very easily be seen as keys to achieving the goal of wellness, the way the big money industries are coming at it is by selling the same ideas, just under a different name. They’re still focusing on weight-loss, dieting, and the connection between being overweight and being worthless, but they’re doing it with a concerned look on their face, a box of coconut water in their hands, and asking the question, “I mean, don’t you want to feel well?”
And, yes, yes, I do want to feel well. But what does that mean? Because now, the diet and fitness industries are saying the exact same things they used to, but they’re replacing the goal of thinness with the goal of “wellness.” They’re still trying to let you know that your current shape isn’t really working for you, but instead of hitting you with the, “it’s almost bikini season, fatty,” they use outdated methods like calculating BMI (ps. BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and that formula has been under question for years. NPR even produced a story on how BMI was, in fact, “bogus,” back in 2009) or fear-mongering by throwing around the word diabetes, as a means of saying: “oh, no! We’re not saying that being bigger is bad! We’re not thinking of weight, we’re thinking of health! We’re concerned with people’s wellness.” Insert eye rolling emoji here.
The thing is, a higher weight is not automatically equal to being unhealthy. There are plenty of people with what would read as a normal BMI or be at an “ideal weight,” who have high cholesterol or blood pressure. And, from a purely athletic standpoint, women like yogi Jessamyn Stanley, powerlifter Morit Summers, and, obviously, Lizzo, who performs incredibly high energy numbers with full choreography at her concerts while playing the flute, are all what we would refer to as “big,” or “plus size,” and they smash the idea that a larger weight somehow means laziness or an inability to perform athletic feats. Meanwhile, I know people more than half their sizes who can barely run a mile without needing to stop for breaks. But still, the idea that being big equals a lack of pride in taking care of oneself persists! And the diet and fitness industries are using that to promote their idea of “wellness.”
By really digging in to those stereotypes, the diet and fitness industries are able to swap questions about whether or not you’re ready for swimsuit season, with questions asking you if you’re ready to start really “taking care of yourself.” By equating being plus size with a lack of self-care, they can play on this idea that by being a bigger size, something must be missing and you must be sad, and they’re going to help you regain your confidence and glow with their brand of “wellness.”
Well, look, I’m fucking sick of that.
Yes, I said fuck.
Because this warrants it.
Because underneath all of the “mantras,” they throw at us, is the real message that we’re not good as we are, we’re not beautiful as we are, and (because oh my God, did you know all the women selling diet tea on social media are doctors?) we’re not healthy as we are, an argument that holds as much water as touting the benefits of vaginal steaming.
It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They’ve simply exchanged the motto “nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels,” to “my body is my temple.” Or “a minute on the lips, forever on the hips,” to “I deserve to be healthy.” “Suck it up and one day you won’t have to suck it in,” to “remember that prevention is easier than a cure.” Meaning: hey, if you’re, you know, bigger? You’re probably SUPER unhealthy and gonna die unless you lose weight.
And we wonder why studies have shown that people who weigh more are less likely to go to the doctor for fear of being shamed rather than being helped. But that’s a topic we’ll cover soon in another post.
The Body Positive movement has installed a kind of BS filter in many people, making it so that phrases such as: “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” are seen as total crap. However, the filter might not work for these new-fangled maxims that seem to be in line with keeping you happy, healthy, and well. When we hear: My body is my temple or I deserve to be healthy, it’s hard not to get curious about what that means and if somehow, you’re not doing it.
So, your challenge for this post is: Unfollow the accounts that make you question your level of wellness in terms of diet and exercise. If there’s an account you scroll by that makes you feel shitty about yourself? That’s not motivation, that’s comparison, which, as Theodore Roosevelt said is: the thief of joy.
Sure, meditation, yoga, journaling, exercise, and eating in a way that makes you feel your best are all incredible things! But just because something falls under the heading of wellness, doesn’t mean that it needs to be included in your wellness regiment.
These companies are hoping that they can convince you that something is missing and that they know what that something is.
But they don’t.
So, as you’re moving through the world today, and if you’re looking at this, I’m sure you’re also going to check out some social media stuff, try to recalibrate your mental filter as you scroll. You might find that some of what you had deemed inspirational is actually detrimental, and just a picture of green juice with a well-worded sentence or two beneath it, that in truth, makes you feel bad.
Because in the end? Your body is your temple and you do deserve to be healthy, but on YOUR terms. And the only person who can determine those? Is you.
Til next time,
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