WTF even is self-care anymore?

Self-care is a nonsense word. It may have meant something once, but it has been stolen from us and weaponized against us. It’s just a way to sell us shit now.

Self-care these days is usually the thing you do INSTEAD OF what you actually need. It’s a sneaky way to convert big, systemic problems into solutions that YOU, the victim, are responsible for. Usually because you’re not able to do the thing you actually need to do.

A series of totally hypothetical examples that definitely aren’t based on shit said to me or my friends

Your doctor was horrible to you and your family doesn’t support you? Here, eat ONE SINGLE DOVE CHOCOLATE. Just be sure to not actually indulge too much, or else you’ll get diabetes and die. And then your poor insurance company would have to raise your rates I bet. So, like, stick to one.

What’s that? Your job is stressful beyond what you think you can possibly handle? Let’s not talk about labor conditions or the piss-poor condition of unions in America – it sounds like you need a bubble bath! Come buy our lavender-scented bath bombs!

Oh god, are you a parent too? And you have to work here because everything is so goddamn expensive and wages have been flat for a generation? That sounds exhausting. You must be so tired. No, we won’t give you more time off, that’s so silly. But here, have a free lunch on the company card. No really, it’s our pleasure. We care about you. Take care of yourself, honey. But then get back to work by 1:00.

Oh, did we mention that we have a new corporate “health” program? We want to help you with your self-care! That’s why we have posters hanging up everywhere that will relentlessly food-shame you when you’re just trying to use the drinking fountain. Don’t forget to eat more vegetables and less actual food!

Also, we’re helping our employees take care of their physical health by hosting spin classes after hours! And we got everybody a FitBit that reports your physical activity back to HR! We’re so progressive and we love supporting our employees in their self-care. Just, like, make sure that if you don’t go to the spin class that you get your minimum number of steps in elsewhere, or we’ll have to jack up your insurance rates again. They’re already so high after you ate that second piece of chocolate, it would be a real shame to do it again.

Well jeez, what is there to do?

We can do better than shallow self-care. We can actually take care of each other. We can stand together and demand better. And we can choose to take care of ourselves in the ways we ACTUALLY need, not just the ways that are convenient to Corporate America. Take every single one of your sick days this year. Be a stickler about the terms of your contract (check out r/maliciouscompliance if you want some delightfully evil examples). You earned all that and a whole lot more.

My self-care, by the way, is writing this cranky article on company time, when I am supposed to be writing marketing copy. Having an outlet makes the workday more bearable. You know what, this probably makes me more productive in the long run anyways. They should be thanking me.

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