The Wellness Trap: Break Free from Diet Culture, Disinformation, and Dubious Diagnoses and Find Your True Well-Being

Little, Brown Spark. Apr. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780316315609. $29. SELF-HELP
In Anti-Diet, Harrison excavated the racist, classist, and capitalist roots of the diet industry. Her latest book covers similar ground. Harrison describes wellness as a set of expensive practices and a related belief system that maintains a hierarchy privileging thin, white, affluent people. This saleable version of wellness culture is racially, culturally, and socioeconomically exclusive—almost parodic when discussed in relation to wacky Goop-style trends, but tragic when one considers the ways in which racial and socioeconomic discrimination lead to poor access to healthcare for some. At times, the author succumbs to her rigid, black-and-white thinking, and there’s a slight preachiness that many will find off-putting. Her rhetorical strategy, to simply invert the tactics of wellness-industry pundits lauding the evils of fast food, only provides skeptics with reasons to distance themselves from Harrison’s argument. Well-researched and carefully documented as it is, the book feels a bit sprawling and unfocused—perhaps justifiably, since the wellness complex has, as Harrison describes it, infiltrated everything from medical research to social media.
VERDICT This title demonstrates that the wellness industry differs from true well-being as much as spa treatments differ from Audre Lorde’s original idea of self-care for activists. A valuable addition to conversations about race, class, ableism, and diet culture.
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