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How to Take Back Wellness From the Wellness Industry

There are many paths to well-being—you just have to look outside of what’s being marketed to you.

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Few markets have experienced the kind of explosion in popularity the wellness industry has enjoyed in the last few years. What started as a niche beat, occasionally popping up in the background, has snowballed into an integral component of people’s lives—and media diets.

I’ve been an editor in the wellness and beauty sphere for over a decade and have marveled at the term’s growing ubiquity. It connects with just about every lifestyle category—fitness, culture, dating, style, nutrition—and has even seeped into topics that once seemed completely disparate, from tech and activism to careers and education.

The tricky part? The wellness industry doesn’t always result in, well, actual wellness for the people it aims to serve. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The stories below offer different routes to our own definitions of wellness, ones we can seek out as we root out actual wellness from the industry that’s sprung up around it.

Image by Linka A Odom / Getty Images

The Ayurvedic Beauty “Trend” Completely Misses the Point of Ayurveda

Hasina Khatib

“In 2023, consumers gained more awareness of misinformation, misleading promises, and lack of regulation in certain markets. As writer Hasina Khatib explains, few ‘trends’ exemplify these notions quite like the rise of ayurvedic beauty—and the modern-day skewering of its ancient roots and true meaning.” -Sam Escobar

Why Is Exhaustion So Normalized for Black Women?

Alisha Acquaye

SE: “When ‘wellness’ as a concept went mainstream a few years ago, it was often conflated with, say, bubble baths, eye masks, and spa days—lovely things, to be sure, but all are purchasable, surface-level Band-Aids that can sometimes overshadow our true needs. Wellness, in both its history and its modern significance, goes much deeper. I love this piece by writer Alisha Acquaye on the importance of repose and self-care for Black women. She writes, “I am tired of lifting my family on my shoulders, of forcing myself to forgive aches that have spread from my heart to my body and spirit. There are two problems: Black women don’t get enough rest, and we don’t get all the types of rest that we need.”

Internet Princess

Rayne Fisher-Quann

SE: “I want to give a shoutout to one of my absolute favorite newsletters: Internet Princess by Rayne Fisher-Quann. While it’s not technically a ‘wellness newsletter,’ her sharp sense of humor and beautifully written entries on everything from grief to shame to therapy never fail to make me stop and be present. And what could be more wellness-aligned than that kind of break from the typical doomscroll?”

It’s Too Easy to Buy Stuff You Don’t Want

Amanda Mull
The Atlantic

SE: “Our financial health can have an immense impact on our mental health, as can the trap of endless ‘stuff’ accumulation. I thoroughly enjoyed Amanda Mull’s examination into why online shopping is (intentionally and detrimentally) far too easy.”

What’s At Stake for LGBTQ+ Rights in 2024?

Nico Lang

SE: “A huge aspect of wellness: Identity and self-image. LGBTQ+ culture has contributed hugely to the modern forms of ‘wellness’ that we see today. Therefore, examining the rights that are at stake for this community, particularly for trans and nonbinary individuals and groups, is once again being made central to conversations on the background and meaning of wellness.”

Sam Escobar

Sam Escobar is Allure’s Site Director. Their writing has appeared in Esquire, MEL Magazine, The Observer, Business Insider, and Cosmopolitan, and they were named one of Brooklyn Magazine's "30 under 30." In the 10 years they’ve spent in the media world, they’ve held editorial roles at Good Housekeeping, Bustle, and The Gloss. In 2016, they co-edited Kill Your Darlings, Tweet Yr Drafts, a chapbook of casual love poetry. In their spare time, Sam can be found practicing calligraphy, petting cats, and staring into a telescope. You can follow them on Twitter, which they refuse to call “X,” as well as Instagram.

Image by Christine Hahn