Lack of pampering doesn’t have to mean self-neglect
At its core, self-care simply means to take care of you, says Jeriann. It doesn’t and shouldn’t always have to involve expensive beauty supplies.
“Self-care” is a buzzword that’s picked up a lot of traction in advertising the last few years. The term can be used to refer to meditating, going to yoga, buying beauty and healthcare products, getting spa treatments, and many other activities.
As with many marketing buzzwords, the true meaning of self-care has become diluted by public perception. Obviously, not everyone has the time or money for spa treatments and expensive beauty supplies, so self-care becomes a luxury that only the fortunate can partake in.
Of course, at its core, self-care simply means to take care of you. This can mean physically, emotionally, spiritually, or in a myriad of ways. Since everyone’s personal needs are individual and specific to their situation, self-care takes on a different meaning for each person.
I have a problem with how self-care has been addressed online recently, specifically by wellness bloggers. I have a acquaintance (whose blog I will not link to, because as much as I disagree with her, I do not believe she deserves bad publicity) who recently started a blog focusing on her health journey, with a secondary focus on promoting body care products through a direct sales company. She talks a lot about how certain products and habits have changed her health and overall well-being.
I have no judgment on her stories, for they are hers and specific to her situation. However, she uses her stories to offer advice to others, and sometimes that advice comes off as extremely exclusive and tone deaf. Recently she talked about how she had gotten to a point in her life where she wasn’t taking care of her body, and this was showing disrespect for herself. Her examples are that she didn’t paint her nails and style her hair. Once she started taking 10 minutes of time for these “self-care” practices, she gained confidence and was better able to excel in other parts of her life.
My problem with this story comes not in the personal details, but with the implications of broad application. I do not style my hair or wear makeup. When I feel like pampering, I do paint my nails, and I do see it as a fun way to “spoil” myself. As I was reading, I had to briefly wonder if my lack of focus on my appearance is a sign that I don’t respect my body. Perhaps it does come off that way to people I work with.
But personally, my value in myself doesn’t focus on my appearance. I do take care of my body – by feeding it well, by keeping it clean (I even take lovely baths full of unnecessary bath care products each week), and by knowing I really should exercise more (but still working up to the point where I do). My confidence lies in the way I do the things I do rather than how I look while doing them.
This is not to say anything against people who spend time on their appearance. I totally understand enjoying wearing makeup. I love how I look when I do style my hair. For some people, looking great is the first step to doing great things. In fact, many people use fashion as a method of healing. But that is not everyone’s mindset.
For some people, makeup application is frustrating. Hairstyling does not come naturally. And if you don’t find personal validation in those tasks or the results of them, being told by society that you’re neglecting your body by foregoing these optional tasks is degrading. We see this in advertisements, in workplace dress codes, and in personal stories (that are usually just subliminal advertisements) about how spending time and money on physical appearance improved every aspect of a person’s life. Everyone makes their personal statement in different ways, whether that’s through appearance or not.
So I want to encourage everyone to really think about what self-care means to them. Next time that yoga channel tells you it’s impossible to have a good day without doing a certain 15-minute flow every morning. Next time your coworker tells you you’d be more successful at work if you took time to look more “professional”. Take a moment to think about what activities rejuvenate you personally, and don’t feel bad for not getting the same energy from the methods that work for others.
Jeriann Watkins blogs at dairyairhead.com. As she is currently planning her wedding, her favourite thing to rant about currently is how the wedding industry almost exclusively targets brides, as if men don’t get married too. For these and other rants, check out her blog and twitter!