The Commercialization of Self-Care and Wellness Culture
By Karis Fields
Photo: Zen Bear — Source
In recent years, self-care has become a widely known practice used to help keep our physical, emotional, and mental well-being in check. Unfortunately, this has also caused society to subconsciously take some detrimental steps; like for instance being forced to overspend, having too much ‘me, myself and I’ time, or sometimes even prioritizing things that aren’t always a necessity for healthy living.
What once started as a genuine attempt at prioritizing the self has become something driven by commercialization and capitalism. And, granted, not all self-care is the same. Each person who partakes in self-care practices has their own definition of what self-care is. However, the overarching factor in a majority of these methods is that self-care is something to be purchased. Society has put a dollar value on well being.
A study done by ticketing and event platform Eventbrite in 2018 found that the average person spends $199 a month, or about 22% of their disposable income, on non-essentials for themselves. This study also shows that Americans spend $143,280 to “treat themselves” in a lifetime.
People will spend hundreds upon thousands of dollars on bath products, aromatherapy, spa essentials, food, sex toys, vitamins, skin care products, and clothing all for the sake of self-care and wellness.
Day spa packages typically range from anywhere between $150 and $450. And, even then, people sometimes don’t even get an experience equivalent to the price they paid for it. Sometimes, they come out of a spa more stressed than they were prior to entering it. Just glancing at a website, centered around aromatherapy products, one 5ml bottle of an essential oil costs about $55. Sustainable clothing ranges from about $50 per article of clothing and up. Organic food costs double than a typical budgeted trip to Food Lion. Bath bombs can cost up to $13, or more. Bottles of beauty supplement vitamins can cost $30, or more. There is currently a skin care lotion on the market that costs over $1,000. Additionally on the market is a $200 Bluetooth remote control vibrator.
Not only have companies picked up on the marketability of self-care, but there are even some foundations out there who have created awards centered around who has made the most money in the self-care and wellness industry, who has the best marketing strategy in the industry, who has the best campaign in the industry, and who has had the best product launch in the industry.
We have gotten to a point in self-care and wellness culture where we associate our well-being with the amount of money we spend towards it. People have adopted a “treat yourself” mentality, one where they are willing to spend everything in the bank on material goods that will only bring them joy in the moment. Influencers and celebrities on social media have embraced this sort of behavior, encouraging their followers to follow suit. Perhaps this toxically evolved self-care and wellness culture also has something to say about economic class, seeing as many high profile individuals endorse it to middle to lower class individuals who can’t afford it.
Whatever the case may be, self-care and wellness culture needs to be refurbished and rebuilt into a healthier and more authentic form of exactly what it claims to be.