Realness is the New Wellness

Historically, Influencers in the wellness space have gained prominence by promoting a curated vision of health; one that is at best inspirational and at worst, an unattainable fantasy. In other words, it may motivate you to practice yoga or buy avocado toast, but your sun salutations won’t necessarily overlook Runyon Canyon.

Yet, increasingly, a new guard of wellness Influencer is shifting the conversation, publishing content that showcases a more realistic and authentic vision of what it means to be “healthy.” These woman, including Lee Tilghman (@leefromamerica), Jeannette Ogden (@shutthekaleup) and Chinae Alexander (@chinaealexander), often strip away the glowy, oh-so-perfect filter associated with wellness, instead sharing content that speaks to both the positive and negative complexities of wellbeing. Conversant and engaged in issues like body image and mental health, these women are resisting the urge to filter out the uncomfortable and inconvenient truths they encounter on the path to wellness. Instead, they work through such issues in real-time in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands, breaking down the emotional distance between Influencer and follower in the process.

And while that gap still exists – after all, they’re using their platform as means to wield authority on these topics — their thesis often remains consistent: I’m not perfect; I’m like you; I’m figuring it out, too. In doing so, these Influencers not only embody a paradigm shift in wellness, they represent a rising sentiment in popular culture.

Simply look at the upsurge in memes like “Instagram vs. Reality” and the growing traction of #realstagram, an Instagram-native movement celebrating the unfiltered version of oneself. When former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe posted the below Instagram, she garnered a 14x increase in comments versus her historic benchmark.

View this post on Instagram

This is gonna mess up my esthetically pleasing feed and I don’t really care. After 2 months on broadway, getting dolled up with full hair and make up, this is how I normally look. It’s been a whirlwind and I have just been “on” for a while now. Poor Shawn, but I have been run down, moody, tired, cranky, irritable, and probably smell bad because I hate showering. Just wanted to remind you today while scrolling, that you’re beautiful, Instagram is a highlight reel, and we all have things to work on. But work on the inside this year, scroll less, love more, and the outside will fall into place. Let’s make 2018 the year of #Realstagram and mix one in every once and a while! Who’s with me 🙋🏼‍♀️

A post shared by Kaitlyn Bristowe (@kaitlynbristowe) on

Similarly, model and Influencer Iskra Lawrence saw a comparable spike in comments and nearly double her benchmark likes when she shared the below post using the hashtag #Fyourfacetune while speaking to the damaging mental aspects of Instagram.

With growing awareness around mental health informing our cultural conversation, acknowledging one’s vulnerability is increasingly seen as a strength versus a weakness. Those seeking to lead conversations online and off should take heed of this important trend: Authenticity isn’t just an act of self-care, it can be a powerful means to inspire.

View this post on Instagram

It’s still an internal struggle to post absolutely everything. I felt like a mess, and felt like I looked a mess and my emotions were shook after something that happened yesterday and a combination of other personal issues that I think lead to this emotional breakdown. 🙈 I try and commit to showing you ALL the realness, even though I do feel more comfortable posting the “best bits” which there is nothing wrong with but I’m hoping this post can make at least one person feel better with not being OK. 💕 I took this pic and wanted to post it because Instagram can be completely unrelatable, overwhelming, triggering and even damaging for our mental health. 🚫 Don’t ever compare your happiness, confidence, body, beauty, relationships, success or life to ANYONE online. Many people are struggling with their own issues privately or publicly and no one has to share online or post things they aren’t comfortable with. 💕 To myself I want to be honest, I want to accept myself in all of my emotions and I know it’s OK to cry. I am gentle on myself and practise self care. I’ve surrounded myself with family, friends and faith so I know I’m supported and loved no matter what and I’m beyond grateful to have that. 🙏 So shoutout to all my people going through something, I see you and I’m sending you my love and a huge hug. 🤗 To anyone who has my number please don’t text I’m fine now and will explain when I see you what happened, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to share this with you all when I was upset and not 100% or all smiles like I usually am. PS feel free to post a crying selfie and tag me I know I’m not alone but can’t remember the last time I saw a photo like this on the gram🤔🤷‍♀️ 💕 #cryingcusimhuman #nomakeup #Fyourfacetune #itsOKtonotbeOK #cryingdoesnotmakeyouweak #mentalhealthawareness #realstaGram

A post shared by i s k r a (@iskra) on