I read the Daily Mail article this morning entitled “Exposed: The sick truth behind the great ‘wellness’ blog craze taking social media by storm and one online star battling a secret fitness addiction“, and naturally it’s making its way through the whole “wellness scene”, with many a person criticising the Daily Mail for being “one-sided”.
Here’s the problem I have with that: social media is, by it’s very definition, one-sided. So to me that argument seems a little hypocritical.
Social media is a way for you to portray to the world exactly who you want to be. It’s not realistic, and it’s not meant to be. One of the reasons the wellness scene is flourishing is precisely because of the rose-tinted glasses of social media. People don’t care about the poor person who got through cancer with chemotherapy, they want the beaming glowing “look at me I’m so well and I didn’t even need chemo” façade. People don’t want to know about the person who exercises 4 times a week and doesn’t have a six pack, they want “here’s how you can get rock hard abs like me!”.
Of course, not everyone on Instagram is lying to you about how they look and what they eat, and luckily there are more and more people advocating a balanced lifestyle rather than extreme diet and exercise, but the whole wellness community oozes this vibe of silent competition of who can be the most healthy, the most toned, the most admired. And it’s making people sick. How many people you admire on social media would now be diagnosed with orthorexia?
The wellness bubble can be a dangerous place to linger for too long. It creeps up on you and engulfs you in it’s selfish extremism. It’s not real life. It’s so important to not let it become your whole life; there is so much more to life than working out or spending time plating up your food beautifully so as to get extra likes. Having friends with different interests, having hobbies outside of health and fitness, even going out to a restaurant that (shock horror) doesn’t cater specifically to health foodies, these things are all so important for perspective.
“Normal” and “conventional” aren’t exactly the first words that spring to mind when talking about the wellness scene. Being “normal” means going out for drinks on the weekend, skipping a workout because you’re hungover and just want to watch Netflix in your pjs, or enjoying a takeaway pizza with friends. Such simple normal things that can give you so much perspective, and ground you back to reality.
I know this, because I live in the wellness bubble too. Most of my friends are food and/or fitness bloggers, I organise events where people talk about food and fitness, and every day I take pictures of my food for Instagram. But I also have friends who I hardly ever talk about food with, I sometimes sleep in and read a fiction book in bed instead of going to the gym, and I get drunk on Pimms when it’s sunny and we have a family BBQ. I even eat regular, unhealthy, non-vegan cake at family birthdays, because I want to enjoy the day and eat the same cake as everybody else. Because sometimes it’s nice and it’s healthy to feel normal.
The wellness bubble is a wonderful place to meet like-minded individuals who have the same interests as you, and I’m very grateful to it for giving me friends and experiences that I treasure; but it’s still a bubble that you need to completely escape from time to time.