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Treat Yourself, But Treat Yourself Well by Stephanie (@weareallsunlight)

Here at Mia Belle we endeavour to make our blog a platform for collaboration between different people who work in different industries and are from all walks of life. We want to provide content that is interesting and enjoyable to read, inspires you to think more, feel entertained, give you a laugh and give value back to you our readers and customers. We resonate with the values in Stephanie's write up and we are excited to share what she has mindfully written for you to read. Thanks so much Stephanie and thank you all for reading :)

Treat Yourself, But Treat Yourself Well

Beauty, marketing and consumption is exhausting as it is, and this silly season, after the year we have had, it is stepping up to a whole new level. So here are a couple of reminders to help us step back, focus, and feel good about what we buy and indulge a little at the same time too.

Treat yourself is usually used in a context to say, just do it, you deserve it. And you do!

You deserve something special that you wouldn’t normally give yourself, we all do. It has been a tough year for most of us and giving ourselves a little lift can make all the difference after a rough week. Taking some time to do a bit of pampering and to unwind is a great thing to be normalised. What we do need to keep in the back of our minds while we rush around christmas shopping, is where we are spending our money, why we are spending and who it impacts in what way.

So before we get too far into this, let me make it clear, self care is a beautiful thing and it is great to normalise and prioritise. We all need self care and all deserve to treat ourselves. I am not here to tell you this is wrong because it is not. However, treats and self care are very very different things and both also exist in a time where the beauty industry will pull at every single flaw and trend it can to get us to pull a little green out of our pockets.

The idea of self care has been manipulated to facilitate consumerism.

Where it all starts to get tricky and distorted is when the idea of treating ourselves gets swooped up and glued onto to self care, wrapped up in a couple of marketing tricks and all tied together with a pretty little bow of capitalism. The health and wellness market in the UK alone, increased by £3.7 billion in the last five years and other industries are taking note. It started being cool to care about the planet, then along came greenwashing. Now self care and wellness are in the spotlight and consumerism culture is milking that too.

In 2019, the cosmetic industry was worth about $50 billion in the United States alone. Yup, that is a lot of money right? And I am sure that by now we have all seen at least one ad telling us that we should spend our dollars with them because we are ‘worth’ it, because they ‘care’, because we deserve a treat. As if the world of consumerism wasn’t confusing and exhausting enough as it is. So how do we actually know if they mean that all?

I’ll get into that shortly.

But let’s carry on with the hijacking of our beautiful self care train, which as a collective, people have worked so hard to bring to the forefront of spaces and conversations.

Treats and self care are often lumped together, when one is about short term gratification and the other is about long term investment.

Self care has become so materialised and we shouldn’t forget that sometimes selfcare is ‘ugly,’ and difficult and can look like a whole range of things and activities. It can be a face mask but it is so much more than that.

Both self care and treats are also okay, again, one is not good or bad, short term gratification can be really fun. What short term gratification should not just be, is just one more justification or reason for businesses to keep acting in a way that does not prioritise people and the planet.

Treat yourself well is a counter saying that I prefer to use because it adds just a little reminder that you deserve more than just a little short term satisfaction. Especially if that is not what you actually need at the time. It is often hard to step out of our immediate wants but it is worth taking a moment to pause and examine, what do you really want, why do you want it.

So how do we know when businesses actually care?

It can be exhausting to navigate, cruelty free, chemical free, diverse modeling, plastic waste, worker rights, packaging… It is so easy to decide it is all too hard and just buy out of excitement.

Trust me, I get it.

If I can give you one takeaway from this all, let it be transparency.

Transparency is a big beautiful colourful umbrella that reaches over many aspects of ethical consumption. If a business is proud of their ethics, they will let you know, they will have nothing to hide. While we shouldn’t hold anyone to perfection, there are some basic easy things to look out for that make a huge difference on your impact as a consumer.

  • What faces do you see? Do you ever see the face of the owner or creators of the product? What are their models like - is their imaging diverse? Is it run by a family?

  • What is it made of? Can you read all, if not any of the ingredients? Does it have any animal products? How natural are they?

  • How proud and loud are they about where their product is made? Nine times out of ten, NZ / Aotearoa made products and ethically made products will let you know where they have been created, because they are proud. As they should be.

  • How is it all packaged? Such a simple thing that will either go totally unnoticed and when it is not, there will be a forest of greenwashing to make your way through. Remember, glass, metal, paper, wood. Where you can. This is one of the easiest ways to gage how much a business cares about what they leave behind on this earth.

Ethical gifting is a whole topic of its own, and it is a lot, so please jump on the internet and google ‘eco christmas guide’ or ‘nz made gifts for xmas’ and I promise you will find a whole range of guides, tips and tricks and wonderful local businesses to support. It will feel amazing to give gifts to yourself and to others that you know are going to be loved and that were made with love.

To round up this lovely little detour, if you can tell that a business genuinely cares about its consumers and the planet, chances are, they are much less likely to make you feel like you should buy out of guilt and or without much thought or intention. The holiday season can be so stressful and busy so make it work for you, instead of this adding to a growing list of things to think about, I urge you to take this critique of consumption culture as a push to replace the shopping routine that you likely already have. Make yourself and your values the priority. Especially when it comes to self care marketing.

Do it because you feel good, not because you feel flawed.

Here is my ultimate self care tip this holiday season, STOP buying into the idea that you are flawed and that you will only be and feel worthy, only once you treat yourself to a super expensive skin treatment that you totally don’t need. If you truly want it then great, but as soon as ANY sneaky little thoughts come into your mind, that will try with all their power hide the fact that you are actually just buying into flaw-focused consumerism, tell them to go take a hike.

So yes, buying things I am excited about gives me a hit and yes I actually do enjoy a bubble bath for time out, and that is very valid. But I am aware that no amount of money or products will buy me good mental health, or a happy Christmas for that matter.

It’s about recognising whether indulging is coming from you and your needs or from consumerism culture.

Beauty especially has taken wellness and self care and spun something that should be about investing in ourselves, into a tool to make more money out of us. Which sucks. Did you see an ad of a body or face that made you feel like you could be better or do you really just want to relax?

This silly season, try and invest in people around you in a meaningful way, don’t grab a special just because it is there. Try to give people things they will enjoy long term, try to give the dollars you spend to businesses (and ultimately people) who care about what they make, what it is made of, who will be using it and what if left of it when the consumable part is over with. The planet will thank you, your local economy and community will thank you and your friends and family probably will too.

And most importantly, look after yourself, whether that looks like making time for exercise, having hard conversations, saying no to things, having some time out, or treating yourself to something you have been wanting for a long time. Remember, self care and treating yourself can include buying ‘stuff’ but it definitely does not have to. So treat yourself, but treat yourself well.

When you do find beautiful gifts or products that are well made, good for you, and give back, please please shout it from the rooftops. The more businesses that follow suit, the better. To end on a personal note, I, as a person who has ‘influence’ online, love showing off when I find a brand that also fits my personal ethics. I happily, honestly and proudly give them space. Not to make money (you’d be surprised how little small ‘influencers’ make) but because I believe in the people behind the product, I agree with their mission and I want to see them succeed.

Thank you Cath (aka Miabelle) for all that you do and for giving me this space.

  • @weareallsunlight - Stephanie (Stephanie's website) :)

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There is so much we love packed into this write up and so thought provoking 💓 thank you

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