Understanding what it means to be “well” is pretty complex nowadays given the copious amounts of definitions and criteria. Speaking from my own experience, as a twenty-year-old female, the majority of my information around wellness has come from social media blurbs or short articles lacking any true sense of credibility. Coming across new articles or advertisements promising their viewers that they have the way to help them be the healthiest version of themselves. How can one turn down such an enticing offer? The truth of the matter is that these messages and deals have become truly unavoidable in the average person’s day-to-day life.
As of 2018, representing 5.3% of global economic output, the wellness economy is valued at $4.5 trillion. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the biggest contributing sectors of the wellness economy are personal care, beauty, anti-aging, healthy eating, nutrition, weight loss, wellness tourism, fitness, and mind-body. From small wellness startups to the dominating brands and services, it has become increasingly hard to avoid dipping your toes in some of the industry offerings.
However, this is when the real questions come to mind: when do we know when it is necessary to actually utilize one of these services or products? Is there a distinction between profiting off of the urge for one to better themselves by spending those extra dollars? Does being well and nourishing the healthiest version of ourselves need to be done via an external tool? As stated above, since the wellness industry currently has a broad spectrum of types of services, I choose to focus on some of the largest sectors: healthy eating, nutrition, weight loss, fitness, and personal care.
It is important to note that the questions posed above are, if anything, only relevant to those that have access and choice to spend money on nutrition and fitness. There is without a doubt distinct disparity between the main contributors to the wellness industry and the ones that do not have the full means. Despite the fact that everyone should be given the opportunity to benefit from the promises of these different wellness brands, the monetized barriers distinguish yet another inequality.
For example, Equinox Fitness, the high-end sports club, and spa, currently has over 300 locations spread across the United States, Canada, and London. The average membership rate is around $200 with an increased initiation fee. However, that does not include the additional promoted services up for offers like an all-club access membership, access to premium Equinox locations, spa services, and personal training services.
Representing the trends of other dominating brands in the industry, Equinox sells their high rate memberships by promising an experience to access the healthiest and most well version of themselves. Through advertisements that aesthetically make one crave the need to utilize their services and offerings, it is inevitable that many people will instantly question if they need to opt-in. As a result, most people will be prone to questioning the ways in which they are currently lacking in terms of well being.
Just as Equinox and other luxury wellness companies are monetizing an experience that should provide for a basic right of health and well being, both mentally and physically, there is no distinct end to the means. The commodification and exclusivity of the wellness industry are just a tangible representation of how our society has idealized a glorified version of what it means to be healthy. Instead of approaching wellness from the broad and individualized standpoint of overall personal wellbeing, companies in the wellness industry have forced it to be a one-size-fits-all model.
Moreover, it seems that in order to sell their products or services, these companies must abide by the motivation to enact self-questioning amongst their viewers and potential consumers. Although beneficial to some, not everyone is on track to accessing their overall well-being from this model of consumerism. This is when it is important to question the role that these companies play in your life. Is it worth the cost to access this idealized wellness lifestyle?
This is all not to say that some of these companies and services have proved to actually be helpful and positive for some people. If you consuming are happily consuming this lifestyle and have little to question while doing so, then that can be your form of accessing your true well being. But for those that may not necessarily have the means, access, or potential to receive positive outcomes, then this is when it may be significant to take a step back and assess the role in which wellness and idealized well-being play in your life. Many times the uberly intense classes, the anti-bloat promising supplements, and the need to fit into size 2 Lululemon apparel are not one’s true versions of personal well being.
With all this being said, the wellness industry is a very important industry, especially in our world’s current climate. The need for humans to find or refind optimal health and well being has seemed truly desirable right now. Thus, it seems crucial for us to take a step back and assess how we define our own well being and the role that wellness products and services play in fully accessing that.
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