This begs the question: if you’re selling self-care, doesn’t it benefit you to have a consumer who is living in a permanent state of anxiety and unwellness? Where do we draw the ethical lines?
Self-care used to be a radical, political and powerful act of defiance. Its roots were in communities that have endured oppression and been forced to create their own culture of caring for themselves when external forces would not. In 1988, Audre Lorde famously wrote: ‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’ How has it been turned into the ultimate treat-yourself moment?
A quick check of the self-care hashtag on Instagram reveals more than 3.5m sepia-filled posts featuring bubble baths, mimosas and juice detoxes. In many ways visual culture is fuelling a culture of narcissism and privilege that is more about being able to broadcast the moment than being present at it.
As Nikisha Brunson, co-founder of Urban Bush Babes, says in a recent Well and Good article: ‘Society has made it look like this luxurious thing you do every once in a while, like going to a spa or relaxing getaway. Not everyone has access to that type of self-care.’
Brands should be careful to acknowledge the multiplicity that the term encapsulates, or risk changing its intended purpose. Of course, it will always require a delicate balance to marry wellness, feminism and politics, but a brand that can authentically support all three might just be a winner during these turbulent times.
For more on the need to properly implement self-care strategies, book our E-motional Economy in-house presentation.