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  • helizabethcaney8

'Unintentional' shaming in wellness culture

I’ve really tried hard not to be reactionary with my writing, I believe it did all stem from a reactionary place but I have been mindful and taken over a year now to reflect, research and read around my thoughts so I believe they are grounded in a much more objective base.

These topics are just to create conversations.

However I have felt the need to write given the bombardment of Mother’s Day messages (which was yesterday as I write this) within the wellness industry, that I haven’t really been able to stop thinking about.

Here are a few examples I came across:

'You never understand life until it grows inside of you.'

'A love you can't experience anywhere else in life'

'A child fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty'

I find the fact that all of these are quotes that came from those working within the yoga and wellness industry, those who capitalise upon 'helping' individuals with their practices in movement, meditation, mental health etc is astounding.

And I would like to question who these statements are intended for? 

If it's that you want to celebrate your successful reproduction then great, pat on the back for you, I personally have found motherhood extremely difficult and I do believe in society Motherhood is not praised, recognised or supported enough. However in no way does the fact I've reproduced make me feel as though my life is now complete or more valuable than those who haven't. I question whether there has been any thought or consideration sharing statements like these to those who will feel ostrisized, shamed and belittled by them.

I don't think for a second that motherhood shouldn't be celebrated, for the mamouth task and constant challenge it is, but it is also a huge priviledge.

Yes you may love motherhood (some people don't and post natal depression is a huge topic I'm not sure I can go into with any justice), however how anyone can declare themselves as more enlightened, capable of knowing life or feeling love because they have had a child is quite frankly beyond me. 

How is it this rhetoric is so common and seen as ok in the wellness industry, how is it not considered to be harmful to so many people who will see such messages for example; women who can’t conceive, women trying to conceive, women who have had a termination, women with sexual trauma, women who aren’t women biologically, women with post natal depression, women who have lost a child, women who have lost a mother. 

I actually discussed this topic in a class I taught this week and received such loving encouragement from the many women who have not have children, the bravery they had to speak to me about how they feel on Mother's day and share their personal stories was moving. When I questioned whether they see messages like the ones I mentioned they said 'of course'. 

Does it shame them, yes. Does it make them feel less capable of feeling love, yes. Does it make them feel inadequate, yes.

It's interesting how alot of the people that say these comments are practicing and offering wellness, therapy based support, counselling etc yet they are seemingly oblivious to the impact in their choice of wording.

If a person was to approach them for their services who had been heavily triggered by seeing such obstuse quotes like 'you can never know life until you've carried life' - say they have recently suffered a miscarriage - how would they support them honestly? How can that person guide another with this idea of worthiness?

How is it that someone who promotes wellness, 'healing', support, advice, guidance, community, writes such hurtful statements - I don't know but I think it shows alot. Maybe that's just the lack of awareness they have and obviously (I hope) they don't mean harm but fuck me, read through a few of your ‘sacred’ Rumi quotes.

I feel fortunate that I am a mother however I don’t believe that by simple reproduction is that I should feel anymore worthy than or benefiting anything than anyone else.

I'd also like to point out that the wellness industry capitalises on motherhood on so many ways:

Pregnancy yoga (which I used to teach myself)

Mum and baby yoga

Fertility yoga (?!)

Postnatal yoga


Holistic midwife’s 

I don't believe any of these are bad in any way and can be hugely beneficial in my experience to those who are undergoing that transition in their life but what about the classes and support networks for those who have suffered miscarriage, loss, have chosen to not have children, have had fertility issues, are they less worthy or fortunate because I'm sure I'm not the only one that's left feeling this way from the rhetoric that gets thrown around about motherhood. Why is that not spoken about so freely with such passion within the wellness industry?

I appreciate the celebrating of new life but in doing so who are we congratulating? Is that not ourselves and the fact we have reproduced? Is this not the epitome of elitism, and comparison and competitiveness that echoes so heavily in the wellness industry?

I found that a lot of messages from people not connected with the wellness industry where more of ‘love you mum you’re the best’ or ‘love my kid thank for being a shit bag love you’ not the absolute empty, shaming and bullocks rhetoric that was everywhere in the wellness field.

I propose those who work within the wellness industry to consider a simple comparison when they make any publically facing content:

How many people it will help?

But more importantly how many people it will hurt?

Is it not that when we feel like we are doing our best for others that we should question ourselves the most?

To conclude everyone is capable of understanding life, experiencing love, everyone has a full heart and please most importantaly remember Hiltler had mother.

mic drop

How did you feel about seeing Mother’s Day messages or otherwise? Especially those published by those who work in the wellness industry? How do you feel about the Motherhood portrayal in the wellness industry?

'You can always understand life whether it grows inside of you or not'

'A love you can experience everywhere else in life'

'A child fills a place in your heart that was never empty'

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1 Comment

Mar 16

Thank you for writing about this issue so candidly. As someone with a history of SA and health trauma who doesn’t identify as female and is unable to have children, these kind of comments have left me feeling so ostracised that I feel unable to attend a yoga class even though I know how beneficial yoga could be.

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