The recent re-emergence and subsequent commercialization of self-care have undoubtedly left us starving for more.
For generations, self-care has always translated to self-preservation. Traditionally, self-care was not defined by the same privileged rituals that we are familiar with today. Moreover, the practice was started by women at a time when healthcare and wellness gave precedence to upper-class men.
In today’s world, self-care has not only emptied our wallets but has left our hearts desolate, wanting more and more out of this fascinating phenomenon. However, one could argue that the commercialization of self-care has promoted wellness for women across the world.
It has inspired them to lead healthier lifestyles and also left them attempting to meet unrealistic beauty standards by spending copious amounts of money on an endless list of bizarre products.
The problem here lies in the bigger picture. Women worldwide believe that their aspirations to look and feel better will be answered instantly by over-priced gels, masks, and lotions. Universally, self-care is no longer a journey towards self-love, confidence, and self-preservation but an expensive and exhausting competition for women to partake in.
Self-care is no longer measured by the satisfaction one would feel while looking in the mirror after an early morning run. Instead, it is now estimated by the sigh of relief one would experience after seeing a certain number of views on their performative Instagram story or showcasing that they went for a run when the sun was rising.
Self-care, in the 21st century, is not aimed towards how we see and feel about ourselves, but how the world sees and feels about us.
‘Basic grooming,’ in the world today, is a tremendous source of emotional and physical fatigue. If not from high-intensity workouts and prolonged starvation, then from the pressure to be better than everyone around us. The irony of the market for self-care is that brands are entirely aware of their consumers’ stress and vulnerability and are using it to their advantage.
They are fueling women to believe that looking after themselves is not a practice, but a responsibility. The market now is creating extreme and unnecessary emotional stress such as a lazy day in bed or a slice of cake are now reasons to feel excessive guilt.
In an ideal world, looking after oneself should be a habit, with no ulterior incentive apart from the benefits it has for our emotional and physical health. Unfortunately, self-care, now, is not only a trend that has been completely revamped, losing its essence but is emulated by products with false promises of achieving toxic and unattainable beauty standards.
The industry for self-care, a lethal combination of beauty and wellness brands is worth approximately $10 billion. Businesses have realized that modern self-care is validated by social media and have abused this to the extent that taking care of yourself is not only monetarily but emotionally costly.
Contemporary self-care poses scented candles, personalized journals, and tea-based masks to remedy the stresses that plague our chaotic lives. Yet, one does not realize the perniciousness of commercialized self-care, which has driven 1 in every 50 people to experience body dysmorphia.
Instead of promoting wellness and giving importance to self-preservation, commercialized self-care has left women more vulnerable and, quite literally, hungrier than ever to meet unfeasible ideals of beauty, which simply do not exist.
It is beyond unfortunate that women are no longer practising but purchasing the ability to look after themselves in today’s world.