Mean Girls of the Wellness World
Whether you know of the film mean girls or not, or even if you’re male or female, if you happen to have an interest in promoting or following health and wellness trends, you may have uncovered a hidden dark side to this growing movement.
This dark side isn’t necessarily evil, but it comes in the form of not feeling good enough, or as though you are ‘hip’ or ‘spiritual enough to fit in line with the status quo or the most trendiest health stars. The darker side might come in the form of feeling outcasted, and as though the health community you usually associate yourself with (e.g. on you tube, Instagram or in group meet ups) is a bit cliquey...
Similarly, although some related friends might seem lovely to your face, you notice that there is a deeper feeling of negative judgement from others, while there is something less than loving being spoken about behind your back. In other words, you feel like you a playing a game of mean girls, where you have been outcasted from the popular crowd who make themselves appear much better, healthier, prettier and worthy of success than you.
Perhaps you are even one of those mean girls (or boys) yourself. Not on purpose or because you want to hurt others’ feelings, but because you fully believe that your path is the right path. Whether that be the vegan way, paleo way, yoga way, fitness way, spiritual way, or any way for that matter, you are on a mission to show others that you can pursue this path to the best of your abilities, and that other people should ‘rightly’ follow this way too.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can come at the cost of making some individuals feeling alienated, unworthy and less able to follow their own hearth and journey towards health and happiness. Not only that, rather than building a bridge between where someone is currently and where they can go, the way you portray your lifestyle can create an even lengthier divide that seems uncrossable. But (and a big but) we need more bridges and small stepping stones, especially for people unready to make those leaps and life changing shifts forward. We can't simply let them be turned away, or feel unable of making any difference to their current situation.
The thing is, in a world where there is so much social comparison, it is ever so easy to slip into black and white thinking - that one way of living is the best and only way.
This type of thinking leads individuals into the trap of building a whole lifestyle and identity around what they are passionate about, and with it creating a community that believes that this is one true path to wellness. It doesn’t open up a door for alternative ways of thinking, and can sometimes make individuals feel as though they just don’t fit in with the picture of being a person who can brand themselves as healthy (unless they have the perfect smoothie bowl, vegan or plant-based diet, toned abs, yoga pose, or health coaching degree … ).
Our world is filled with idolised images of individuals who look glowing, radiant, and as though they have ‘made it’ in life. Yet, I can tell you honestly, behind many of those perfectly choreographed poses and colourfully arranged smoothie bowls, there is much sadder story that lies behind it. Sometimes this is in the form of someone posting images who has low self esteem, or still views themselves as an unworthy and unlovable person unless they meet some ideal standard of living or beauty. Similarly, the amazing Instagram food feeds you see can often be hiding multiple cases of eating disorders, including the recently acknowledged orthorexia nervosa (an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating).
For myself, I have often felt that some lifestyle communities make their lifestyle more of a superiority and ego complex rather than something that can be accessed by all. Instead, there feels like more barriers than entry routes, and instead of feeling on a natural 'high' after attending certain wellness events, I have left feeling more hopeless than hopeful.