Self-care glamorization is materialistic, prioritizes companies over consumers

Ella Jiang, Staff Writer

 

There’s nothing more relaxing than taking a hot bath and doing some much needed skincare after a stressful day. Scents of lavender, the fizzing of a bath bomb, skin-burning mud masksit truly does not get better than this. Because after your moment of peace and a couple of vicarious scrolls through your feed of “#LoveYourself” posts made by gym-bros and beautiful women, you’re quickly back to the taxing, gritty reality you were in before, except now, you’ve maybe unlocked a few more levels of self-awareness.

The desire to escape from our everyday lives grows more and more apparent as most of us enter the late stages of widespread burn-out. The advice I both give and receive to “take care of yourself” is endless, and as easy as it is to turn to pretty products to act on self-care, we need to stop viewing it as something to buy.

Real self-care isn’t comfortable: cleaning your room, taking a shower, cutting off toxic friends or opening up to your emotions. Having stability in our lives includes addressing the unhealthy habits in it and working on them. Acting as a parent to yourself is important even when it feels awkward or counterintuitive.

 But truth is, no one wants to feel “bad” when taking care of themselveswhat’s the point if we’re just being burdened with other responsibilities? So, inevitably, we turn to glamorized, more instantaneous solutions. From candles, to herbal tea, to massagers, to face masks, to hot baths, we are offered an endless array of band-aid solutions to our problems, conditioning us to believe that self-care is a means to splurge on material goods.

Big companies, especially beauty brands, heavily promote their products by taking advantage of the materialistic desires of their customers while disguising them as self-care itemswhich is what makes our insecurities such a great marketing opportunity. Especially on social media, where there is this ever-looming pressure to “love yourself” and to be self-indulgent, the impulse to act on this ideal is inescapable. Because while we suffer the consequences of real issues that affect our health, like bad sleep, poor self-esteem, big workloads, we are encouraged to deflect our problems onto the things we consume. 

That is what’s most appealing about these productsnot their effectivenessbut the literal feeling we get when we buy or use them, the feeling that we’re making “progress” in our health. People will buy self-help books, but never read them, pay for gym memberships, but never go, use a productivity app for a week and never touch it again, all in the name of “self-care”which is why brands are so successful with feeding us feel-good, “liberating” products. 

The more we are told to apply this commodified version of self-care to our lives, the further we stray from the actual purpose. Self-care should be something that’s personal to usa process of self preservation, not a checklist of practices or products you need to achieve or buy in order to maximize your self-help journey. Self-care isn’t instant gratification, it’s a slow process of maintaining a healthy lifestyle that lasts in the long term.