2014, the year of the introvert, ‘self-care’ and more.
I’m not sure when it happened, but 2014 seemed to be the year where you couldn’t throw a rock without a new blog, article, or Buzzfeed post like ’27 Things Only Introverts Will Understand’ or ’14 Reasons Why Staying In Is The New Going Out’. From the very beginning, 2014 seemed to be the year to celebrate holing up at home in a onesie with Netflix and take-out food, laughing at everybody else who’s going out to a bar and spending money to have fun.
The introvert ‘at home’ trend isn’t exactly new though, the post-recession Netflix generation, aka ‘Millenials’ are used to finding cheap, at-home versions of going out and dropping lots of money on a good night out. But the new thing this year seemed to be the outgoing celebration of all thing shut-in. And all while Tweeting, Facebooking and humble-bragging about it at the same time.
And hot on the introvert heels? The ‘self-care’ doctrine.
Now, not only are we expected to reject going out to restaurants, or bars, or public places in general because we’re all somehow introverts, we also need to practice self-care to become the best self we can be. But is this really all about healthy living, or is it just another way to defend flaky, comfortable habits?
But just what is self-care? Formerly a treatment method used by doctors to help promote healthy lifestyles and coping mechanisms for people recovering from eating disorders, PTSD, violence and mental health issues, it’s somehow altered to become a narcissistic way of defending excessive spending or shopping habits as self-care in practice, by ‘relaxing’ and ‘treating yourself’.
While I do adore ‘Treat Yo’self’ ideology and the associated frivolity, the shopping aspect of the ‘self-care’ doctrine reminds me more of YOLO than ‘Treat Yo’self’, with people using ‘self care’ as an excuse to do whatever they want, damn the consequences and damn their finances. Rarely are these ‘self-care’ products simple drug store items, usually they are high-quality, high-end indulgences purchased with the full acknowledgement that they are an unnecessary luxury good.
But I question the healthiness of these choices. How is it ‘self-care’ to buy an expensive foundation or perfume that you can’t really afford. Why are products, not habits, the new way of coping with stress and mental health issues? Sometimes it seems like this new version of ‘self-care’ is designed to defend shopping tendencies that people have to fill holes or other gaps in their lives.
The same way that yoga turned from a meditative fitness practice, to a lifestyle, to a fashion style adopted by people who’ve never done a downward dog in their life, I feel the ‘self-care’ doctrine isn’t far behind. We already see it on TV, when companies start throwing up commercials telling people ‘Once your holiday shopping is done, buy something for yourself’ or ‘Your family is happy, now it’s your turn’, you know that you’re eating it up, and they’re taking your money right out of your wallet.
So here’s my proposal. In 2015, instead of hiding behind ideologies to take care of yourself, take a real hard look at what makes you happy and why. Or maybe, instead of defending your $60 purchase of an illuminating powder as a ‘self-care’ purchase, just call a spade a spade and admit you simply have expensive taste.