I think it’s fair to say I’m a veteran blogger. When I started my healthy living blog back in 2010, the world was a very different place. Instagram didn’t exist, and most people blogging about health and wellness were resigned to a small quiet corner of the internet. Fast forward to 2016 and thanks to platforms like Instagram, some health bloggers have reached super star status with thousands upon thousands of followers and in the case of people like Hemsley + Hemsley, even a TV show. You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of Deliciously Ella.
It all looks so beautiful. From the food they create to the bloggers themselves, their brands are built on a illusion of absolute perfection. It’s an illusion, because nothing is perfect in reality, and that’s where the issue with the clean eating craze lies for me.
We’re now starting to uncover the ugly truth behind the perfect Instagram feed, with articles such as The Unhealthy Truth Behind Wellness and Clean Eating on Vice and a really interesting panel discussion on Body Talk at Selfridges. Add to that the BBC 3 documentary Clean Eatings Dirty Secrets and the illusion is unravelling.
Before we get into the many issues, we need to remember that not all healthy living bloggers are full of shit, as Clean Eatings Dirty Secrets suggested. Obviously I’m including myself in this, but there are many incredible women blogging about health and wellbeing from a really holistic and balanced point of view. While the ‘Clean Eating’ version of healthy living has it’s issues, we have to make sure that the debate doesn’t lead us away from actual normal healthy eating, i.e. eating mostly unprocessed whole foods with a few guilt free treats thrown in for good measure.
My issues with the wellness craze are less about focusing on one or two particular bloggers and more the fact that when you group them together as a whole, there’s a distinct lack of diversity and a certain air of privilege. Being truly healthy and happy will not result in looking like a model, if that were true I’m sure I would have been scouted ages ago! But when these bloggers talk of being healthy and happy, and all being incredibly slim, young and beautiful women, it suggests ‘eat what I eat and do what I say and you’ll be thin and beautiful too’.[Tweet “The #wellnessblogger craze isn’t a direct path to thinness and beauty. Soz.”]
When it comes to the ‘eat what I eat’ part then the privilege creeps in. Eating like a wellness blogger is not cheap, and this is coming from the woman who would routinely drop £100 on a Whole Foods shop whenever she was in London. It’s all very aspirational, but ultimately who’s fault is that?
It’s true that many of the hugely popular bloggers are ‘connected’ in some way, but they haven’t become as popular as they are by accident. There’s been a hunger for what they offer, for that promise of thinness disguised as ‘healthy eating,’ for that feeling of being holier than thou whilst sipping your green juice and eating your vegan salad.
Instead of having a go at them, perhaps what we should be doing is empowering women from a very young age not to fall for the bullshit. To be body positive, to understand what a healthy diet actually looks like, to enjoy that ‘dirty’ food without guilt and to know, deep in their bones, that their worth has nothing to do with how they look, what they weigh or how they choose to eat.
What are your views on the clean eating movement? Let us know in the comments below!
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