Wellness is worth $4.2 trillion. Yes, you read that right. TRILLION. So how have we become so obsessed with being well?
Well well well. It’s about time that I made this post. After all, this blog is dedicated to dissecting wellness trends, so why don’t I have a go at the largest of them all? Wellness itself.
Now, when I talk about Wellness, I’m talking about it with a big, capital W.
Here’s why. It’s a thing. An industry. It’s more than it’s literal meaning these days, i.e. a state of good health and the opposite of illness. It’s an entire way of life!
What’s more, it’s a business opportunity. Brands and chains around the globe are expanding their options to appeal to people who have the interest and the resources to enjoy being ‘well’. Take Pret A Manger, for example. They’re expanding their Veggie Pret stores and options to great success. Starbucks is jumping on the kambucha bandwagon, and supermarkets throughout the UK now doubled, or even tripled their veggie and vegan options.
If you look on the Amazon and Waterstones best seller lists, the likes of Joe Wicks and Ella Mills dominate the food and drink sections.
Finally, if you have a dig online and search for popular hashtags, the numbers are astronomical:
- #vegan 62+million
- #healthy 130+million
- #paleo 13+million
- #cleaneating 41+million
I really could go on, but I won’t. Long story short. Wellness is here.
Now, I need to make this clear. There are way more reasons than the ones I’m going to list below, and an entire industry exists to specially explore and dissect this trend. But, here are my main arguments.
Feeling good looks good
Food photography. Before and afters. Fitspo.
Feeling good and being well makes you look good. That’s because when you have access to an amazing platform like Instagram (cue a shameless plug for my profile), good cameras and editing tools, it’s only natural to share the best aspects of your life.
People have built entire careers by sharing their recipes, hacks, exercises and wellness travels. So it’s not surprising that Wellness has become such a phenomenon when there’s so much to be shared.
Here’s the thing though. Wellness photography can certainly be inspiring, but at the same time it can also be stifling.
Why can’t my avocado toast look like that? Why can’t I recreate that ‘authenticity’ that I see others do so well? At this point, Wellness feels as illusionary as it does real. And yet, it sells. By following aspirational accounts, we buy into the industry.
Luckily, there are a lot of body positivity activists who’ve carved out a niche in the platform, who are sharing their own messages of positivity.
There are lots of clinical studies about how good diet and exercise can be for us. It’s a fact we can’t deny.
There have been some pretty big ones in the news, including the link between the intake of processed meats and cancer (especially colorectal). Most recently, another study made a splash when results showed that a lack of exercise can do more damage than smoking, heart disease and diabetes.
Now, if that isn’t an incentive to move more (and I will openly admit that I have been slacking off big time for…reasons) – I don’t know what is!
When I talk about clinical studies, I have to make a few things clear. There are different styles and levels of quality. Some, like the recent one I mentioned above, lasted for well over a decade and involved over 120,000 participants.
Other studies involve meta-anaylsis, which pools together a series of studies to generate even more data (and are often seen as a gold standard). And then…well, there are others that are only in the very first phase (literally looking at a molecule interacting with a cell in a dish) that could lead to nowhere or be simple observations in a tiny group of people.
This is actually something I’ve touched upon in more detail in ‘Avocados can’t cure cancer’ – so if you really want to know more, take a glance and you’ll see what I mean.
But, on the whole. It’s a good thing that we’re seeing results like these. It’s eye opening and again, it helps to explain the rise of Wellness.
Alternative facts do too
You can’t write about Wellness without mentioning the (self-appointed?) Queen Bee, Gwyneth Paltrow and her blazing empire, GOOP. If you haven’t been keeping up with the growing GOOP trend, it’s fair to say that there’s been some highs, and some lows.
For starters, they’ve opened their first London based store in the ultra trendy Notting Hill. It’s beautifully laid out and provides customers with experiences and tutorials known as ‘activations’. But they’ve also been hit by a $145,000 lawsuit over false claims for the infamous vaginal eggs (which you can still buy btw) and split from Condé Nast, who merely wanted to practice ‘old school’ fact checking.
This is another cornerstone for the rise of Wellness. Stating facts. Not checking facts. Believing facts.
Another of course, good old confirmation bias. Sometimes, we believe what we want to believe. It blinds us, and it drives us. It leads to hordes of Wellness fanatics, clad in identical Lulelemon leggings, clawing over buckets of snake oil. Okay, that’s a lie. But I don’t think it’s actually too far from the truth. I’ve been to Balance Festival.
When will Wellness peak?
Some might argue that we’ve already reached and gone past peak wellness. After all, clean eating (despite it’s continued popularity on Instagram) has received some well deserved backlash, and a lot of its original advocates have stepped back from its now toxic reputation.
I still think we’re riding the waves of Wellness though. Which is a good thing, otherwise this blog would be rendered defunct pretty quickly!
Remember, this is global industry worth $4.2 trillion. It’s not going to suddenly disappear. It’s going to keep growing, keep changing and continuously evolve.
I’ll be interested to see what trends are going to crop up next year…time to start making my predictions for 2019!