Consumerism corrupts self-care

Maybe try Ikigai


Daniel Rees/Talon

Forget what mass media has branded self-care as. Practice self-care by nurturing yourself.

In the past few years, self-care culture has taken our world by storm.

But what exactly is self-care? From retail therapy to spa days, everything seems to fall under the category of self-care. My perspective? Whatever helps you take care of yourself, whatever helps you live the life you want to live, whatever gives you happiness, that’s self-care, and it doesn’t need to fit a strict definition.

But social media dictates that the general idea of self-care focuses on consumer products: massage chairs, face masks, nail polish; they are strictly items of monetary value. Capitalistic practices have taken advantage of our desire to better ourselves and have redirected it towards vanity.

People are more willing to spend $20 on face masks from Amazon, or $30 on bath bombs from Bath & Body Works rather than stop biting their nails or work on their time management skills (which, quick reminder, are free).

The problem with that is the entire idea of self-care is predicated upon helping yourself in the long-term by working to improve yourself. That resolution is not reached through short-term fixes such as beauty products. This manipulation of what self-care should truly be can lead people in the wrong direction, solely promoting vanity and subsequent narcissism.

This idea of self-care has given more importance to being camera-ready, instead of being life-ready.

We should be outraged that this well-intended concept of self-improvement was manipulated by our consumer culture. We should, in turn, channel this outrage toward fixing the public perception of what self-care is.

A solution? Ikigai

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates to ‘life’s purpose.’ There are four things to consider when using Ikigai as your method of self-improvement and self-care: doing what you care about, what you excel in, what the world needs and what you can be rewarded for.

Ted Talk speaker Tim Tamashiro helps the average viewer understand this concept by addressing the concept of Ikigai as a verb which includes different things like serving, creating, delighting, etc.

Ikigai is about doing what you love and understanding what drives that passion. It’s about finding your purpose and nurturing it. That is self-care. Ikigai is not the solution, it is a solution as to how to address the consumer culture of our country which can manipulate our ideals of concepts such as self-care. Ikigai can help change the public perception of what self-care is.

This is not about convincing you to try Ikigai. It’s just an example of how to actually practice self-care, and ignore the misconceptions perpetuated by consumer culture.

Readers, I know OPHS can get stressful. Many of us, myself included, get cranky, tired and crabby as a result. Self-care is a great way to stay in touch with yourself, relax and give yourself the attention you deserve.

That isn’t to say self-care can’t be a hot shower, lavender tea and a passionfruit moisturizer. There are days when that’s all I ask for. Your self-care, however, shouldn’t be limited to any specific thing. It’s a lot more than face masks and fuzzy socks.

Just a reminder that self-care culture isn’t the only victim of consumer culture. Via advertising techniques, consumers often lose individuality by falling prey to mass marketing techniques. Remember to question the way things are branded. Maybe start with self-care culture.