In a post-Goop universe, will the concept of “wellness” ever mean more than an expensive exercise in self-indulgence? In conversation with model and wellness consultant, Danielle Copperman, we discuss the culture of wellness, and the simple practice of being well.
For the uninitiated, the wellbeing industry can seem a formidable and intimidating place designed for a privileged few. In recent years, the concept of “wellbeing” and “wellness” have become commercial nouns to describe an industry whose estimated worth is numbered at £2.9 trillion, Only in this industry, driven by the compulsion for optimum health, can £200 ‘super, bioavailable’ supplement powders, chakra mists and £120 psychic readings be effortlessly sold to a select, devoted few.
In our recent times, where people are looking to experience a more fulfilling sense of wellbeing, we speak with model and author Danielle Copperman about her perspectives on wellness, her journey so far, and the simple solution to feeling good.
We have more choice and more opportunity than ever before, so we have more chances to make those conscious decisions for our wellbeing.
The Bod Edit: Why do you think there has been such a rise in popularity of wellness?
Danielle Copperman: I think the concept of wellness has always been a thing, whether it was in the form of cookbooks, calorie guides or cooking shows. What’s changed, I suppose, is that movement from diet to wellbeing, and I think that shift in popular consciousness can largely be attributed to education. Through the internet and social media, we’re able to share information and inspiration freely in a way that wasn’t possible before, so mainstream media isn’t dictating our thoughts in the same way it used to. And thanks to that I think we’ve come to learn that just because something is low fat or low in calories doesn’t mean it’s healthy and vice-versa. We’re beginning to ask the right questions and getting less biased, more educated answers.
I think wellness has evolved naturally from this new wealth of information; we’re engaging in conscious eating that takes into consideration our bodies, our minds, the environment and the collaborative relationship that exits between them; I think that’s a privileged position to be in. We have more choice and more opportunity than ever before, so we have more chances to make those conscious decisions for our wellbeing. But, the popularity of wellness has a cost too.
There’s always going to be some backlash when something grows as fast as wellness has.
How do you mean?
Just like anything else, once something becomes popular it becomes profitable. You’ll meet someone planning to start a juice company, and they’ll start talking figures and growth percentages. Wellness just takes a backseat to making money. I know it seems I’m being hypocritical given Qnola (Copperman’s quinoa granola ), but none of that was premeditated and I’ve truly never been in it for the money.
I’m definitely not condemning all wellness businesses, only questioning those that miss the point of the concept. They are trying to sell, that’s when these businesses become a double- edged sword of sorts. For example, healthy meal delivery is amazing but it also means you’re not at home taking that hour to prepare your dinner, which is as much a part of wellness as the ingredients themselves. You’ve got all the fast food chains doing turmeric lattes, and it’s great that it’s so accessible, but sometimes it’s just not necessary and it can be a bit much. I mean there’s always going to be some backlash when something grows as fast as wellness has.
We want to be well but we don’t want to have to put in any effort, so if there’s a cure-all product that promises to heal us, we’ll buy it.
But wouldn’t you say people are all too willing to spend money on ‘being well’?
Definitely, and I think a large part of that is due to the media and big corporations packaging up wellness and selling it as though it’s a product rather than a way of being. And we as people are so susceptible to it because we’re so used to having things quickly, newer and better. We want to be well but we don’t want to have to put in any effort, so if there’s a cure-all product that promises to heal us, we’ll buy it.
I think that’s an issue with wellness today, we’re always looking to fix things quickly and straight away, but we won’t engage in practices that will prevent those problems in the first place. That takes real engagement and hard work, but we need to remember that’s what’s key and going to be sustainable in the long run.
To know yourself, to know what you want, and know what you need, is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Given its growing popularity, how do you see wellness evolving in the future?
I’m not too sure but I do hope that it will eventually plateau and it will just become this normal thing that people do to stay healthy or well. I think firstly there needs to be an acceptance that there’s no one right way to be well; spin can be more peaceful for some than yoga, and gluten isn’t universally bad. As wellness grows as a concept, hopefully people will become more empowered to stop listening to things going on around them and what other people are doing, and begin listening to themselves and building a life they want to lead.
Similarly I think it will be the smaller, independent brands who have something new to say which will begin to emerge more and more. The power of smaller brands is that they are still able to bring people together, offering new insights, new opportunities and new information. That’s why I love doing events and meeting like minded people. I’m so wrapped up in my own head sometimes that I assume everything I know is common knowledge but then I host a meetup and realise that some of these perspectives and ways of thinking are still really niche, and likewise, I myself still have a lot to learn and so much more room to grow.
At the end of the day, we’re only here for a few years and we’re stressed enough as it is, so I don’t think we should sacrifice feeling good just to do what other people are doing.
What does wellness mean to you, here and now?
It’s how you are, how you feel, how you’re being I suppose. We’re in a constant state of flux; our bodies, our situations, our circumstances, our environments are changing all the time so naturally there’s never going to be one thing that works for everyone till the end of time.
I think, for me, wellness is about making conscious decisions and remaining aware and considerate about how you’re acting, how you’re eating and how you’re living as a whole. But at the same time, wellness is about being able to adapt and be flexible as well. If I can’t be healthy all the time, then that’s okay, because I just try to be as healthy as I can be.
Wellness is different for each person and there’s not one formula that works for everyone. We need to acknowledge that it’s a ‘forever journey’ of finding what makes you feel good and what you actually enjoy. At the end of the day, we’re only here for a few years and we’re stressed enough as it is, so I don’t think we should sacrifice feeling good just to do what other people are doing.
For me wellness takes on a 360 degree form; everything is connected, your brain, your body, your food, fitness, energy levels, stress levels, your relationships, your career; you have to look at everything that’s going on in your life and tune in to how they relate and how they make you feel. To know yourself, to know what you want and know what you need, is the best thing you can do for yourself.