This is another one of those blogs that makes me a little nervous to write, but it’s a subject that’s been on my mind for a while. When I first started Blue Jay of Happiness I wasn’t sure what niche or category it would fit in, but since I had ‘health’ in my tagline, I thought I would look at other health bloggers for inspiration and even signed up to join an online network of health bloggers.
I quickly realised, this wasn’t where I belonged. All I saw were thin blondes in sportswear holding smoothies or 100 different variations of avocado on toast. And don’t get me wrong, I love me some avocado on toast, but seriously, what else did these people eat?
I left the network and decided I would figure it out on my own.
Of course, there’s room for everyone in the blogging world and I’m not throwing shade or judging health bloggers, I just knew that this particular space wasn’t right for me.
In the time since, through blogging and through work, I’ve seen the wellness industry with fresh eyes. And I’m not just talking about bloggers and influencers here, I’m talking about the industry as a whole. The products, the TV chefs, the marketing – all of it.
With this all being said, here are some things, I personally think, are wrong with the wellness industry…
The wellness industry is rife with expensive retreats, clothing, exercise props, pre-made smoothie blends and fitness classes. It leads us to believe that to be healthy and well, you must spend money. And I think we all know that’s bullshit.
It doesn’t cost a penny to go outside for a walk or follow a yoga class on Youtube. Yes, healthy foods can be more expensive (how has this not been resolved yet?) but equally, fruit and vegetables can be super affordable.
A quick search of health and yoga related hashtags on Instagram confirmed what I already thought here – the wellness industry sucks when it comes to diversity. There are of course some great BAME health/wellness advocates out there, but most of the time all I see are white people.
It turns out, I’m not alone in this opinion, I found a great section on SELF where they had a race and wellness week to highlight this issue., there are lots of interesting reads here
It feels inaccessible
Because of all the reasons above, a big portion of the wellness industry feels inaccessible. It feels like you have to be young, able-bodied and of a certain background to join in.
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Harriet McAtee, CEO of Yoga Quota for Happiful magazine recently and we spoke a lot about this subject. Yoga Quota is a charity that is making yoga more inclusive and accessible to all, including vulnerable groups. They’re doing such amazing work and are showing what can be done in the industry with a little innovation.
The narrative that fat = unhealthy is still being spread by the wellness industry and it is such bullshit. You can be fit and healthy at any size. We need more representation of fatter bodies in the wellness industry and I so love that Callie Thorpe is one of the people doing exactly this. Her recent tweet schooling a troll on Twitter who told her to exercise is bloody glorious.
It’s promoting diet culture
One of the biggest gripes I have with the wellness industry is the way it sells one version of health and happiness. It holds ‘health’ on a pedestal, as this incredible thing that can be ours if we eat the ‘right’ things. It promotes a diet mentality and, worryingly, it often does so with little scientific backing.
Earlier this year my colleague Ellen went to a great event on this topic, ‘Wellness: What’s the evidence?’ and wrote it up for Happiful. Two incredible people on the panel who I’ve been following for a while now are registered nutritionist Laura Thomas and chartered psychologist (who specialises in food psychology) Kimberley Wilson.
Both often rise up against the ‘nutribollocks’ (Laura’s fab term) that is thrown around in the wellness industry and come back to the facts. They have refreshing views on how we should eat and I hope more professionals in the nutrition world take note.
So there we have it, a bit of a rant but also highlighting some incredible resisters out there. And this is the thing, I do sense a shift. We’re starting to rebel against perfection, calling out the bullshit and recognising that ‘wellness’ looks different to everyone. I hope the industry listens and starts to be more inclusive, more diverse and more… real.
Wellness isn’t about grueling workout sessions, green juices and faddy diets.
It’s going for walks in the dappled afternoon sunlight. It’s taking five minutes to sit still and breathe. It’s eating a juicy clementine at your desk, followed by a biscuit dunked in tea. It’s moving your body because you love it. It’s learning what makes your body and mind thrive. I would love to hear what wellness means to you, let me know in the comments.
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