Self-care, for whom?: the pitfalls and perversion of the wellness business | pleasures

“We believe that money can save everything. Which has all the answers. That buying a house or all the beautiful things you want and that you have within your reach will give you happiness. But we already know that it is not true. I am much more interested in exploring the root of these dark and difficult times, looking capitalism in the face and understanding that we should not be so afraid of the true answer to that void that can never be filled. Not even two minutes have passed in the interview with Fariha Róisín (Ontario, Canada, 32 years old) via zoom from his home in Los Angeles and already makes it clear that “my goal in life is to talk about the collapse of the system.” For newcomers, Róisín is a writer who is part of that prodigious quarry of the blogosphere at the beginning of the 2000s, the one that saw the birth of essayists such as Jia Tolentino, Emily Gould or Edith Zimmerman on websites such as The Hairpin or Jezebel. Feminist fiefdoms full of ingenious girls with razor-sharp feathers before the big media signed them, settled them and cannibalized one of the freest and most creative ecosystems of journalism with a gender perspective so far this century.

The daughter of a Muslim couple from Bangladesh who settled in Sydney, Australia with their two daughters, Róisín says she is still learning to resolve the traumas inherited from her family and to let go of what she labels the migrant tautology: “Being emotionally impenetrable as praxis, work hard forever as praxis”. After suffering sexual abuse in her childhood and being mistreated by a sick mother almost since she was born, the essayist moved to New York as soon as she turned 20, tired of “self-deprecating” her own body (“perfection was my path, I think in my life like in a video game where I didn’t know what the prize was, but that didn’t matter”). There she found a niche as a writer freelancing in The Hairpin with a column on wellness and astrology and wrote essays for other outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera either fashion. After publishing a book of poetry and a novel, and sending sporadic letters from his very personal newsletterRóisín publishes this month Who is Wellness For? (Who is Wellness for?: An Examination of the Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind, edited by HarperCollins). His is a treatise of almost 300 pages in which he combines the story of his life and his traumas with the wisdom of great thinkers such as bell hooks, Audre Lorde or Anne Boyer, among many others, and provides Eastern historiography to contextualize and teach the rotten pillars of a commercial industry that has appropriated and marketed ancient knowledge adapting it to the logic of capital.

Her book analyzes other thinkers like bell hooks or Robin Wall Kimmerer.

You say that the wellness industry is only for “white, rich or with a good body”, why?
I have been thinking and writing about wellness for many years. I often wondered, what is the use of writing about self-care? What do we mean when we talk about taking care of ourselves? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that capitalism needs to generate this idea that you should and, more importantly and perversely, ‘deserve’ to buy everything that makes you feel good. But something is wrong there. The West has diluted the origin and purpose of that well-being. The holistic of meditation, of yoga, has been lost, its entire spiritual context has been erased. We have lost the main component of searching in yourself; to look at you, but really, and ask you: If I’m not okay, what’s wrong with me?

And what happened?
I come from a working family where feelings and our problems were never talked about. Although everything was very hard, we never expressed it out loud and much less would we share it with strangers. That was a shame. As a survivor of sexual abuse I have realized that this heritage must be disposed of. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that practically every time I introduce myself to someone, as I am doing with you now, I tell them that I was abused and that’s where all my insecurities come from. It’s very liberating to do that because if you speak it, you open the door for other people to speak. And there are many more than we think.

She says that taking care of herself is “a complicated and very unbearable matter.”
I am not exaggerating at all if I tell you that I spend about $4,000 a month on my own healing. Expenditure on psychological therapy, acupuncture and also physical therapy. For now, I can afford it, but that’s not fair. No one should pay $4,000 to care for themselves. Health is a right. I know that in Spain the situation is different, but the United States does not take care of us, it prefers us dead. A public health system must guarantee these healing and connection processes to all people.

He criticizes McMindfulness, or how Silicon Valley is capitalizing on the culture of well-being in a speculative way with the invasion of applications.
It is an industry that is already valued at more than 1,000 million dollars. Companies like Headspace are not attracted to topics like meditation, or where it comes from or what it really means. The well-being of the people is the least important thing for them. They are only interested in making more money. Our duty as a society is to demand that ‘care’ be free.

“If well-being is feminized, it is seen as a joke, it seems that it does not provide intellectual rigor,” he denounces. Why?
Because we live in the patriarchy. It seems stupid to tell you like that, but today society prioritizes war and violence. That idea of ​​military conquest and being constantly on guard with oneself. We believe that humans are like that, but that is not true. It could be said that, right now, we are witnessing the decline of performance of masculinity. We already know that they have no idea what they are doing.

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