What began as a method of improving one's life has become something much kinder — and stranger.

"Wellness" is a word that has come to encompass our latest dominant sociocultural obsession — how to take care of ourselves in the world. It may, at one point, have been popularly understood as an extension of self-help, a category of literature and speaker circuits that is devoted to personal optimisation (and often, productivity). But more recently, under the potent influence of millennial values, wellness has been positioned and marketed as self-care. This wellness is softer, gentler, more forgiving than its self-flagellating forebear.

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The literature

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The leaders and vendors

Authority vs. the me-archy

The marketing