We Accept the Brainwashing Effects of Health Trends

I’ll be honest. Whenever I encounter a fellow student sipping on a cartoonish green drink in a modern square bottle, I silently wonder how he/she justified the price. I immediately stopped going to a free Bikram yoga class last year after hearing a group next to me discuss their “peace words” that help them get through a particularly difficult pose. You know that one person in class who “really connected” with Thoreau’s “Walden?” Yeah, that’s the person I’m talking about. Trends like juicing, meditation and yoga are hot right now for millennials, which is no surprise considering the brainwashing effect the advertising has on its intended audience.

Juicing has taken college culture by storm. (Photo courtesy of Juicing via Flickr Creative Commons).

Juicing has taken college culture by storm. (Photo courtesy of Juicing via Flickr Creative Commons).

What you and I may not know about trends like juicing is that it’s been around since 150 BCE. What we now think of as cleansing, though, started becoming popular in the 1990’s when Peter Glickman, a Scientologist – no surprise there – rebranded a diet called The Master Cleanse. The cleanse consists of nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for an entire ten days of your sweet, short life.

Besides the obvious insanity of ignoring natural instincts and starving yourself, what I personally find most irritating about these trends is the cultish effect it has on the young and ignorant. Through various forms of advertising, we are pushed into believing that we’re fat and lazy if we’re not consuming our fruits and veggies in liquid form. If you’re not buying this particular product, they say, society will reject you. And you know what? We buy it – both literally and metaphorically.

Time for more honesty – I’ve tried cleansing. I lasted about half a day before giving into my baser instincts, failing the overpriced course set out for me. As I was munching on my Lays potato chips, I remember feeling like a failure – like I wasn’t as mentally strong as juicists Salma Hayek or Gwyneth Paltrow.

After falling off the bandwagon and deciding to use my teeth again, it didn’t take long for me to laugh at myself for the mistake. I prefer taking a bite of apple over drinking it, running over yoga, reading over meditation. Those aren’t any less healthy for the body, and are certainly more beneficial to my individual wellbeing.

Juicing has taken college culture by storm. (Photo courtesy of Juice via Flickr Creative Commons).

Students have been duped into finding self-worth in health trends like juicing. (Photo courtesy of Juice via Flickr Creative Commons).

I recently read an article from The New York Times entitled “Can We End the Meditation Madness?” The first line of which reads, “I AM being stalked by meditation evangelists.” Devout followers of these trends are convinced of the benefits, but what exactly are they? A reduction in stress is what we usually hear, but people are unique and thus stress is reduced in many different ways. According to the article, a professor at Brown University Medical School found “numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.” People operate differently, and I find myself surprised at the hypocrisy of claiming to be open to differences while simultaneously ignoring their presence.

It’s somewhat surprising and also somewhat ironic that the millennial generation is falling into these supposedly natural habits and popularizing these ancient trends. When our iPhones and Apple laptops come up unfulfilling, we find ourselves purchasing a product that we are told will make our lives more meaningful. So, we turn toward bottled fruits and vegetables that are selling for upward of $10 a pop right after we finish one of our $100 a month guided Bikram yoga class in an effort to be our best selves. We feed our egos, telling ourselves that we’re rejecting technology and getting more in touch with ourselves, all the while grasping onto our cell phones for dear life.

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'We Accept the Brainwashing Effects of Health Trends' have 2 comments

  1. November 20, 2015 @ 5:25 am Jen

    As someone who works in the cold pressed juice/ naturopathic medicine industry, I cannot help but disagree with this post. Some people enjoy the taste of kale, or like to look at life with a Holistic approach. Both of these behaviors are personal opinions and usually only affect that individual. In general, people are inclined to do what makes them feel good and for some that, $10 kale juice will hit just the spot before a sun salutation.. I personally, have had great success with practicing such behaviors over the past three years but I’m not here to say, I’m right you’re wrong! I just disagree with the need to critique the way others choose to condone their lifes, regardless of what a few studies show.


    • November 20, 2015 @ 8:00 am Kye Toscano

      I totally agree with you! What I don’t agree with is advertising (or those who participate in these practices) pushing the consumer into believing that this is the only way to live naturally/healthily, you know what I mean? It seems to me that a lot of people, especially young people, just buy into the advertising without really knowing if the product is working for them. To each their own is my point — I don’t believe there’s one way to live well, it depends on the person. I’m glad it’s worked for you, more power to you!


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