Let’s take back self-care and return it to its vintage state.
Self-care sounds like a great idea, right? I mean, the concept is sound. You feel crap, you do something you love, you feel better. Simple, huh? So why do I feel, lately, that self-care is yet another thing I might be failing at?
A quick scroll of my Instagram feed suggests a range of options for self-care. Manicures, pedicures, long white sandy beaches, fruity cocktails, designer handbag shopping, and according to one account – a colonoscopy.
The thing is though, I don’t have the time, or the inclination for many of them (ahem, tube up the backside, I’m looking at you). I mean, if I’m honest, I just want to curl up with a blanket and my Netflix and have no one talk to me for an hour or two. But social media, and the perfectly contoured faces staring out from it, tell me that this is unacceptable.
And I’m here to say, I think that’s absolute bollocks.
How did we let it get to this point? What happened to a book, and a cup of tea? To paraphrase our favourite 90’s punk pop eyeliner fan, "why’d we have to go and make things so complicated?"
I blame the influencers. Social media influencers are turning every facet of our lives into a competition. If you read a book in the woods in your active wear and you don’t gram it, did it even happen?
The truth is, self-care is big business. The “Wellness Industry” is the fastest growing in the world, and likely to keep growing. Which is all well and good if it does what it promises. A quick survey amongst my friends revealed that this wasn’t necessarily the case. In fact, like most other marketing which is tailored primarily towards women, most of the people I spoke to told me that the push for elaborate self-care made them more anxious, not less.
The way self-care is marketed makes it seem expensive, and time consuming, and frankly, not accessible for most of us. When it all seems so complicated, many opt out completely, choosing to forgo self-care entirely in the face of what seems like yet another unfinished task. When pressed, my friends admitted that all they wanted was something simple. 10 minutes with a book, a morning run, coffee drunk hot, or hey, let’s be honest, JUST WASHING THEIR HAIR WHILST SHOWERING ALONE. It doesn’t take much to fill our cups, and by complicating the process we are driving women towards more stress, instead of away.
But, without a lavish option for self-care, will I ever feel truly hashtag blessed? Maybe not. Or at least not to the standard of happiness currently dictated by my social media feed. Positivity has transformed from a handy personality add on, to a mandatory trait. Aside from being impossible, perpetual positivity is surely inhuman! I’m constantly telling my children that all their emotions are ok, so why can’t I hold myself to the same standard?
So, what’s the solution? Let’s take back self-care and return it to its vintage state. I’m reclaiming ugly track pants, and dodgy cuppa soup. Packet biscuits, cups of tea in your favourite mug and trashy TV. Living rooms without well placed indoor plants. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the entire point of self-care, and that is to fill our ever-depleting cups. And I’ve found the perfect solution. It’s not lit, or on trend, or even worthy of a snap. It’s logging out. And it works.
I just loved this article. I hadn't thought about the whole self-care industry thing before but you are right, Haylee. I had my first 35 years ago, long before social media and all the other complications of today's world, so it's easier for me to think of self-care in its 'vintage state'. Self-care continues to be important as one ages and children turn into adults. For me self-care is many of the things you listed in the final paragraph. Ahhh a cup of my favourite instant coffee (instant may not be trendy but it works for me) in a pretty mug as I sit on the back verandah looking out at a backyard that is not magazine perfect but it's home.