Self care is everywhere. It’s the new trending hashtag, and marketing ploy. You can hardly open Instagram without being accosted with images of pamper evenings with conspicuously placed products, emblazoned with #selfcaresunday.
Some celebrate it as a revolution in mental stability. Yet this view ignores something – self-care has been usurped. No longer is it a carefully tailored coping mechanism, it is a new branch of commoditisation.
Capitalism has finally managed to colonise our emotions. Self-care originated as a technique developed to aid individuals suffering from mental health issues, by celebrating their completion of essential everyday activities.
Contrary to the baby boomer perspective, self-care is not a selfish millennial fad. It is intended to gently encourage sufferers to develop life skills that will facilitate recovery.
For some, it may involve exercise and counselling. For others, it encourages acts that would otherwise be so routine they wouldn’t be considered even slightly arduous by neurotypical individuals.
Take showering; an activity that many do without any thought or physical strain, yet many severely depressed individuals can find it exhausting to the extreme.
Self-care thus champions these seemingly unconscious actions that can cause such strain for sufferers.
Social media has offered many wonderful outlets to raise awareness and support for selfcare. Hannah Daisy, for instance, has illustrated badges to celebrate the #boringselfcare activities that are usually not even considered.
Yet social media also holds an ugly, destructive side. It has facilitated and dangerously extended the commoditisation of self-care. Nowhere is this more evident than on YouTube. Take Zoella, Ingrid Nilsen, or Estee Lalonde – all of whom draw on impressive and impressionable fan bases, and have produced videos promoting self-care in a very specific way (read: capitalist).
Feeling depressed? A bath bomb works wonders! Anxious? Lucky there is always a new £20 facial spritz to promote that helps!
This recent trend to promote ‘healthy’ self-care has been supported by large cosmetic and confectionary companies, yet it is dangerous. Why? Because it appropriates a coping technique made for mental illnesses and usurps it to a neurotypical ideal, all to promote profit.
The class dimension of this is dangerous. To say self-care must cost restricts lower class sufferers from participating and feeling like they can look after themselves well.
Self-care is a marketing ploy specifically targeted at women. This not only impacts female survivors disproportionately but, by consequence, it also facilitates the prevailing denial to male sufferers and their emotions.
Refusing males any access to self-care is worrying; it will have irreparable impact on male depression and suicide rates. Specific sufferers are inordinately impacted by such ploys.
Self-care was originally created to aid dementia patients, yet it has now been totally usurped to be sold to youth markets. Coupling self-care with spending has implications for bipolar individuals, whose manic episodes often already involve acute spending periods.
Likewise, arguing that binging is a sufficient self-care activity will have evident impact on eating disorder sufferers. We should be worried about this trend in modern capitalism. A true Orwellian nightmare; our very emotional and mental health have been appropriated by capitalism, with the most worrying consequences reserved for the people originally meant to benefit.