How The Wellness Industry Has You Fooled
An exposé of influencers, bloggers, and fake gurus.
There’s a new trend in town, and it goes by the name of ‘wellness’. It’s not about clean eating anymore now that the term is associated with fad diets, and many bloggers are trying to distance themselves from the name. In January, famed blogger Clean Eating Alice stood by her choice of moniker. By July, she had changed her mind and decided that going by her real name of Alice Liveing would better suit her brand. But has the message of these ‘gurus’ really changed? Or is the industry still exploiting the low self-esteem of millions of women around the world?
It’s no secret that the beauty industry capitlises on making women feel imperfect and then sells them products to fix a problem they don’t have. If you believe everything you read or see on TV and social media, you need anti-wrinkle cream because you look old (which, for some reason, is deemed to be unacceptable for women but not so much for men), you need cellulite cream because your behind looks like cottage cheese (cellulite cream doesn’t work by the way) and you need to get rid of unsightly blackheads (actually they’re sebaceous pores and you can’t get rid of them). So we all rejoice that a new generation of beauty experts and fitness advocates are promoting body positivity so aggressively. They’re also very big on mental health issues, pointing out their own imperfections and how they have a minor disability or that they feel left out that they can’t do transformation photos because they’ve never actually been overweight. But is it just the same issue masked as something else? I’d argue that it is.
These wellness bloggers are all young, pretty, and have access to any gym and any activewear range they like thanks to their influence. As ‘influencers’, they get free meals and merchandise in return for ‘exposure’. Thankfully, more businesses are realising what a scam this is and it also brings into question their credentials. What makes Alice Liveing qualified to be a fitness columnist for Women’s Health UK? What about the self-proclaimed ‘Healthy Chef’ Steph Elswood? She graduated dance college with a diploma in Musical Theatre and Dance, but does she have any nutritional training or any credentials to back her claims to call herself a ‘chef’? I mean, I made some tomato soup once, I don’t pedal it to the masses and claim to be a pioneer in healthy eating. It certainly doesn’t qualify me to work with one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK on a new range. Most of these girls have just been hugely lucky and opportunistic, although they’ll have you believe it’s all down to ‘hard work’ and a deep desire to make women feel better about themselves.
What even is ‘wellness’ anyway? These influencers and bloggers want us to feel better about our imperfections while pedalling all number of healthy food products and beauty tips, working with global brands like Adidas and L’Oreal who have essentially unlimited funds and resources to dedicate to marketing, to make us think we need to change ourselves anyway. They showcase transformations in which they’re quick to say ‘there’s nothing wrong with my body in the first photo’ but still have an underlying message of ‘look how much weight I’ve lost!’ Their posts are all sponsored by brands hungry for exposure and they charge hundreds, even thousands of pounds, for a simple Instagram post to their thousands of (let’s face it) fake followers. They talk about their own previous battles with eating disorders, and yet the wellness and clean eating trend has sparked a new eating disorder known as ‘orthorexia’ which is supposedly when their fans follow their healthy recipes to the extreme and make themselves ill. Another reason why it’s vital to have qualifications and credentials to back up your claims.
Queen of the blogosphere Zoella Suggs has even launched her own beauty range, which she showcases in her videos while talking about her struggles with mental health and how lighting a Zoella Brand™ candle eases her negative feelings. You could write about your own battles with mental health in your Zoella Journal (£14) using your Zoella Stationery (£12.50) all while subconsciously sipping her favourite sponsored coffee brand from your new Zoella Mug (£8.50). But it’s all about positivity and uniting women, and not at all about making money off them, right?
Influencers, bloggers, and ‘wellness’ coaches are just more parasites trying to monetise your insecurities while living the high life and making your depression even worse as you obsessively scroll through their perfectly moulded life carefully constructed through a series of sponsored and filtered Instagram posts. The industry hasn’t changed, it’s just got more clever and is trying to disguise itself. I’d rather take my inspiration from a real athlete who has competed against the best in the world, rather than a 19 year-old girl who spent 6 weeks doing a personal training course and knows all the right poses for a camera.