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When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?

Wellness

Wellness

Wellness has been popularly understood as an extension of self-help, a category that is all about personal optimization and productivity.

More recently, wellness has been marketed as self-care. It is softer and more forgiving.

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When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?

When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/style/self-care/when-did-self-help-become-self-care.html

nytimes.com

7

Key Ideas

Wellness

Wellness has been popularly understood as an extension of self-help, a category that is all about personal optimization and productivity.

More recently, wellness has been marketed as self-care. It is softer and more forgiving.

Self-care

Self-care is characterized as a market for purchasable experiences like massages, manicures, and "me time."

The origins are in secular rituals meant to calm the nervous system. It is focused on doing anything that might make someone feel good.

Self-help

Self-help is far removed from self-care. Self-help is about fixing something while self-care thinks you're already great.

The trendy self-help is linked with business management and entrepreneurialism. Self-help seeks to categorize and instruct.

Spiritual self-help

Much of the wellness content is gestural - establishing boundaries, going to the doctor, doing less.

There is an overlapping section between self-help and self-care that could be categorized as "spiritual self-help." Spiritual self-help wants to fix less often and focuses on understanding and calm, much like self-care.

The Leaders and Vendors

The authorities of a self-help wellness sell a specific program to live by and include exercise alphas as well as diet gurus.

Other wellness entrepreneurs serve the kinds of people who want spirituality and connection, and self-awareness along with physical care.

Authority vs. the Me-Archy

Many newer wellness products are direct-to-consumer and include custom vitamins from subscription services, as well as curated boxes filled with candles and jade rollers.

While self-help-styled wellness involves orthodox top-down, rules-based wellness, newer self-care wellness is an easy sell through human design, snail-mucus face masks, or whatever works.

The Marketing

While self-help wellness products came from the health-food store with practical or medicinal packaging, self-care wellness products often look like a new kind of high-end beauty product.

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The Criticism

Marie Kondo’s decluttering philosophy, which became a rage, invited critics to label her as someone who has an anti-capitalist agenda that can cripple the economy. 

She was also labeled as someone who only appeals to the rich. This unwanted attention resulted in even more business opportunities.

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