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Is wellness destroying women’s confidence?

A debate on whether the wellness industry is doing more to damage women’s confidence than it is to build it up.

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March 8, 2021
4 min read

In this Braincare Clubhouse session, we talked about how the wellness industry is destroying women's confidence, and what we can do to change it. Joining us in the room were: 

  • Sophie Medlin: Head of Nutrition Research at Heights, registered dietitian, Chair for the British Dietetic Association in London, and Founder of City Dieticians.

  • Adrienne Herbert: Host of Power Hour Podcast and director of Innovation and performance at Fiit

  • Sophie Scott: Psychotherapist, coach, and founder of Balance magazine.

  • Rhona Eskander: Dentist dedicated to giving people confidence through their smiles, and founder of Parla toothpaste tabs. 

  • Dan Murray-Serter: Co-Founder of braincare company Heights, and host of our Braincare Podcast 

Sophie Medlin on Wellness in Dietetics

  • There has been a start in the trend towards clean eating. This has caused a real drive towards a condition called orthorexia, which is an obsession with healthy eating. 

  • The problem with wellness in the social media space is that it's completely unregulated. 

  • Celebrities like the Kardashians are promoting appetite suppressant lollipops and teas that cause diarrhea and cause issues with contraception.

  • This terrible toxic world of what they're calling ‘wellness’ has caught up with the actual wellness industry but has nothing to do with making people well. Instead, it's making people increasingly and significantly unwell.

  • The world of wellness has become an increasingly and incredibly toxic place.

Dr. Rhona Eskander on Wellness in Dentistry

  • Body dysmorphia is also extended in the dental world.

  • People come in and they want me to give them a celebrity smile. If I can’t offer that to them, it depresses them and makes them feel unworthy. 

  • Dentistry form follows function. You have to have a healthy mouth before you can have a beautiful mouth.

  • Unfortunately, people are not motivated to get a smile for their health, but instead seek to simply change the way they look. 

Wellness Is Whitewashed

  • Wellness is so focused on aspiration as opposed to accessibility for all.

  • It does not feel accessible for those who are health disadvantaged and need it the most. 

  • When people feel that something is not available to them, they take no action. As a result, people from a community that isn't represented feel disempowered.

  • We really need to recognize that whitewashed and perfectionist wellness ‘coaches’ are the people that are making wellness inaccessible and disadvantaging those who need empowerment.

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Are ‘gym bros’ a form of orthorexia in men?

  • Data shows that a lot more men are developing eating disorders.

  • Disordered eating behaviours are constantly encouraged and normalized by gym bro culture.

  • I'd encourage people to look at the criteria board for MODE (muscularity-oriented disorderd eating.

What mindset should I approach wellness?

  • Base all your goals on holistic health, as opposed to physique only. 

  • That way, your weight body shape is the least interesting thing about you.

  • Focus on your overall health including sleep, social interactions, and mental health.

  • Leave nutrition goals, eating goals, and everything on physique alone.

What are your opinions on the body positivity movement?

  • We have had this growing body positivity movement which is really positive and celebrates individuality.

  • We have to recognise that beauty lies in difference, and not in us all looking the same.

  • However, we still operate in a world that teaches us from a very young age, that we should all be a particular shape, that our faces should look a particular way, and that we should change ourselves until we fit in with the cultural norm.

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