KATE EMERY: Why some wellness industry fads make me sick, including the latest trend — colostrum smoothies

Kate Emery
The Nightly
KATE EMERY: Why some wellness industry fads make me sick, including the latest trend — colostrum smoothies
KATE EMERY: Why some wellness industry fads make me sick, including the latest trend — colostrum smoothies Credit: Supplied, The Nightly

Rarely am I moved to violence but when I read that colostrum was a new wellness trend I wanted to destroy something. Ideally my own eyes so I’d never have to see such a thing again.

That was partly because talk of colostrum — nutrient-rich breastmilk produced before the regular milk comes in — brought to mind a row of new mothers spraying breastmilk into the mouths of glossy influencers working their angles for the requisite Insta post.

When I learned that it was a cow, not human, colostrum driving this alleged new trend I felt only slightly less enraged.

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I shouldn’t have been surprised. Surely colostrum smoothies (yes, they’re real) are the logical conclusion for an industry that started with kale and Pilates and wound up at goat yoga and sticking semi-precious stones in your vagina (if you don’t know, please don’t ask).

women, yoga, silhouettes
Some wellness fads make me sick, says Kate Emery. Credit: sasint/Pixabay (user sasint)

This Saturday is Global Wellness Day, a pointless date that gives PRs an excuse to send journalists insane pitches about why we should be smearing bovine colostrum on our faces or possibly blending it into our quinoa porridge (don’t ask me which, I didn’t read that far) and gives me an excuse to rant about my least favourite word in the world – yes, worst than “moist” – which is: wellness.

Wellness is a grab-bag of a term, capturing everything from vitamins (probably a waste of money) to vampire facials (potentially a way to catch HIV if you’re having it done in an unlicensed med spa in New Mexico as at least three unfortunate women did and also a waste of money).

At the heart of the $8.5 trillion wellness industry is a simple idea: wouldn’t it be nice to look good and feel good but also definitely look good all of the time?

Yes, it would. I’m just truly not convinced that anybody needs to corner a Jersey cow in the birthing suite to do it.

Wellness is supposed to have replaced diet culture when it become unfashionable to admit that routine starvation and exercise were behind a lot of the physical aesthetics that our society deems to be beautiful.

It’s not about aesthetics, it’s about being healthy, you see.

acupuncture, herbs, alternative
Some wellness fads make me sick, says Kate Emery. Credit: bekaschiller/Pixabay (user bekaschiller)

It’s just a coincidence that much of the wellness quackery is being shilled by gorgeous social media stars who only ever imply, with their beautiful faces and improbable figures, that perhaps if you too just treated yourself to this skinny tea/turmeric colonic/toe reading then you too might look like they do in the morning, instead of an escapee from the new Mad Max film.

Its popularity as a marketing term is why my local Coles now sells acai powder and “wellness shots” alongside the bog roll and why someone somewhere got rich when they came up with the idea of “detox water”.

This ripe-for-satire industry was beautifully skewered by last year’s Netflix comedy hit, Wellmania.

And while there is much to laugh at about the way in which fools can be parted from their money, there’s also a darker side to wellness culture, which preys on the insecure and vulnerable with the promise of happiness through self-care — for a price.

When sick people are encouraged to turn their backs on conventional medicine in favour of quack remedies it becomes downright deadly.

If Karl Marx was alive in 2024, once he made it out of his coffin and got to grips with the smartphone, he might acknowledge that wellness, not religion, is the opium of the people.

Spend enough. Inject enough. Consume enough. And you might not have to think about wealth inequality, climate change, war or why The Fall Guy was a commercial failure even though it’s maybe the most charismatic Ryan Gosling’s ever been and has the chaotically fun energy of an early Shane Black script.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the zeal with which Australians have embraced wellness, our satisfaction with our lives is at its lowest point in 20 years, according to last year’s Australian Unity Wellbeing Index (and that was before disappointing box office returns for The Fall Guy, which I know has deeply affected us all).

I don’t know what the answer to feeling (and let’s not forget looking) good all the time is. Clearly.

But I can say with some certainty that it doesn’t lie at the bottom of a bottle of colostrum and that believing in everything that the world of wellness wants you to believe in is enough to make you sick.

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