$2,000 workshops and 'co-creating' with the universe? Inside the world of manifestation coaches–and why their messaging resonates
Spotted: The latest international edition of The Gospel of Wellness is out!
Meanwhile, the paperback edition was recently released in US bookstores! Here I am doing my best Vanna White impression.
Personal news: I recently had a baby! (And boy, do I have some thoughts on pregnancy, parenthood, and the entire process of childbirth.) I am taking some time off for maternity leave—and to recover from some preeclampsia complications. I am also toying with getting some guest posts! If there are any topics you’re specifically interested in, do hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why are Millennials Drawn to Manifestation?
In my book, I explain why organized religion is on the wane and how new belief systems are taking their place. I specifically explore manifestation—based on the law of attraction—and the gurus leading this reimagined faith.
Dressed like fashion bloggers, these new leaders speak of “calling in” unseen powers to materialize new homes, jobs, or maybe just that perfect pair of jeans. On the To Be Magnetic website, one happy customer detailed manifesting a discounted white Le Creuset tea kettle. “Niche manifestation” has take off on TikTok, where influencers and followers get hyper-specific: requesting the universe help them find their lost vape, make their cat stop vomiting on the rug, and even help them recover from UTIs.
Other leaders skew more ambitious, selling $2,000 money workshops that reportedly draw in tenfold the class fee, thereby offering their own spin on the prosperity gospel. (Meanwhile, some research suggests that those trying to manifest riches are more at risk of bankruptcy.) Some now are even incorporating ChatGPT.
There are specific reasons why millennials are attracted to this philosophy, relating to how they were raised—and what they were promised. Big Think published an adapted excerpt from my book, which includes a few:
Today, Jessie De Lowe, a manifestation coach and co-founder of the lifestyle site How You Glow, likens manifestation to life coaching. The majority of De Lowe’s clients are young, female, and college-educated. Though they possess countless advantages, she describes an unsatisfied group gripped by peer competitiveness and unrealistic expectations fueled by social media. They aren’t comparing themselves to the millennial next door. They’re comparing themselves to start-up founders and the globe-trotting friends clogging their Instagram feed. “They feel inadequate, like they’re never where they should be [already],” says De Lowe.
Add an unpredictable job market, rampant employee disengagement, and tales of male-dominated workplaces, and it’s no wonder young women find themselves searching for ways to hack the universe. It’s an appealing concept for those raised to believe that if they follow certain steps, they could get what they want. They were led to trust in a meritocracy, that good hard work always wins. And that, of course, they were special, as told to them 1,001 times by their parents and kindergarten teachers.
Millennials had a hyperstructured upbringing that gave them a false sense of control, says the clinical psychologist Goali Saedi Bocci, author of The Millennial Mental Health Toolbox. Raised on happy Disney endings and American exceptionalism, they struggle with the anxiety of not getting what they were promised. “They grew up with the idea that if you want to get the best grades, you do the extra credit,” she told me.
Apple-polishing millennials got straight As, went to college, then graduated into a recession and found themselves saddled with student debt. Those who secured good jobs later felt stifled by what they considered meaningless positions or weren’t adequately prepared for the mundanity of corporate life.
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News & Trends:
Peloton and Lululemon team up: The former competitors are now collaborators on connected fitness and apparel. (QZ)
Related – my WSJ piece: Sea Moss Is the Hot New Wellness Ingredient
Giving “anti-aging” some competition: There is now a supplement company called (I kid you not) DoNotAge. (Nutra)
Debunking the latest wellness trend: the “trampoline detox”: No, jumping up and down will not jumpstart your lymphatic system. (Jonathan Jarry at McGill OSS)
Philips Sonicare “embraces wellness movement” with new Spotify partnership: I once joked that brushing one’s teeth would soon be rebranded as self-care, and, well, here we are. (Glossy)
Why do so many new products look like they were made for little kids? “Is that a household appliance or an Easy-Bake Oven?” An examination of “juvenile design” that speaks to millennials’ nostalgia cravings. (Fast Company via Forerunner)
Health influencers face mounting lawsuits: The Liver King, Brittany Dawn Davis, and fiber-queen Tanya Zuckerbrot are battling accusations over deceptive marketing claims. (The Messenger)
‘Healthier’ soda brand Olipop brings in $20 million a month: Olipop has already dethroned A&W as the best-selling root beer in the U.S. (CNBC via Food + Tech Connect)
TikTok videos glorifying potentially deadly steroids target teens: These videos garnered over 580 million views. (NBC News)
What do spa-goers want? In the State of Spa Report findings, nearly 60% said they prioritize thermal rooms, ice showers, and plunge pools. (European Spa)
The secret to Seed’s social media success? Probiotic brand Seed Health has generated $100M+ in revenue, specifically through four influencer marketing strategies. (YouTube via LinkedIn)
WHOOP launches Coach, powered by OpenAI: Get “personalized” answers on how to “optimize” your morning routine, sleep better, and more. (WHOOP)
Sporty & Rich gets into beauty: The buzzed-about athleisure brand really is mimicking Goop. (Fashionista)
Sweetgreen’s $15 salads still haven't made the company profitable: The fast-casual chain’s value has dropped about three-quarters since its peak. (WSJ)
Researchers create an entire fake scientific article using AI: “If you weren't paying attention, it would pass as real,” says epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz. “This is going to be a HUGE problem for fraud in science very soon.” (JMIR via Health Nerd)
Withings’ smart scale receives FDA clearance: The Body Scan includes features like “sweat gland activity monitoring,” weight tracking, and even weather reports. (Withings)
New fertility device hits the market: Béa Fertility’s solution is a device comprising an applicator and a cervical cap, “similar to a menstrual cup.” (Design Week)
LISTEN: The Dream: Season 3
The brilliant Jane Marie released the latest season of her hit podcast. This time, she focuses on the big business of life coaching and how that fits into the often wacky world of wellness. “We’re going to figure out why we’re so desperate for someone to tell us how to do life,” Marie told the NYT. (The Dream)
Thoughts on Nutrition Bias in Journalism
The Washington Post piece on influencer dietitians caused quite a stir, with most of the folks I respect in the nutrition space criticizing it (and offering more context). Here’s one piece that summarizes some of the objections.
When you read that headline, you might think that this is some major, widespread problem. However, as the writers point out deep down in the article, “most of the 78,000 dietitians and nutritionists in the United States aren’t social media influencers. Many work in hospitals, departments of health and private practices.”
… They found a whopping 68 "influencers," 33 of which posted paid content to their followers, and some of those aren’t even from the U.S., they’re from Canada. Allow me to pause to clutch my pearls. (Carrie Dennett)
Also see: Food Science Babe’s take:
The Problem with Wellness
Sara Eckel excerpted an anecdote from my book, specifically the chapter that analyzes self-care culture (and how workplace wellness programs capitalize on it).
“Employers can dangle workplace wellness initiatives to offset the stress they create in part because we’ve accepted the concept en masse: it’s our job to fix what’s ‘wrong’ with us,” Raphael writes. “Consequently, employers are always suggesting ways to get well, yet never offering less work or more substantial help.” (It’s Not Us)