The multi-disciplinary artist and author of Like a Bird and How to Cure a Ghost explores the commodification and appropriation of wellness through the lens of social justice, providing resources to help anyone participate in self-care, regardless of race, identity, socioeconomic status or able-bodiedness.
Fariha Róisín’s new book, Who Is Wellness For? An Examination of Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind, tracks the author’s 'own personal experience of needing wellness,' while simultaneously examining the wellness industrial complex and its failures...Róisín identifies as a queer Bangladeshi Muslim, part of a new generation of Black and Brown women of color writers who — following in the tradition of Black feminist poet-scholar-activists such as Audre Lorde, June Jordan and bell hooks (all of whom Róisín names as heroes) — take up themes of trauma and identity through a social justice lens...For Róisín, healing and self-discovery are closely tied to collective reckonings with lived legacies of racism and colonialism, as well as sexism and homophobia. As Who Is Wellness For? argues, healing is an integral — if not the most — important step toward liberation from such legacies...Róisín’s journey begins with her desire to heal from her mentally ill mother’s psychological, physical and sexual abuse, which she describes in the book’s opening as leaving her body 'forever in a state of distress'...The abuse is compounded by the author’s ever-increasing awareness of being a queer Brown Muslim woman in a White settler-colonial world...At other times, however, Róisín’s narrative shifts can be jarring, moving abruptly between her personal experience and academic analysis...And while the book is critical of the wellness industry’s decontextualization of its practices’ cultural, ethnic and spiritual origins, Róisín herself often cites Black and Indigenous women scholars and writers (such as Lorde, Jordan, and hooks, as well as Robin Wall Kimmerer, Winona LaDuke and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson) with little engagement with the histories of violence and struggle that produced their desire to heal...So, who is wellness for?...Róisín’s poignant response to her own question is that our healing must be collective, accessible and available to all: 'Wellness isn’t for anyone if it isn’t for everyone. Otherwise, it’s a paradox'...This may be the book’s most important takeaway — that what we need isn’t 'wellness,' but a justice-based ethos of reciprocity, compassion and care.
In this blistering blend of memoir and cultural criticism, novelist Róisín traces her path to healing as an abuse survivor and takes an unsparing look at the appropriation and corruption of Eastern spiritual practices for Western audiences...Róisín’s childhood was marred by her mother’s unpredictable and violent behavior, and as an adult, those painful memories long went unprocessed...Her healing process, she writes, involved understanding intergenerational trauma and recognizing how it has a physical effect on one’s body, and how interconnected the mind and the body are...Alongside her personal story, Róisín explains how the 'wellness industrial complex' works as 'a modern arm of imperialism' as 'whiteness and capital have... relegat[ed] caring for oneself as a privilege'... Ultimately, Róisín’s answer to the question her title poses is that 'wellness isn’t for anyone if it isn’t for everyone,' and through vivid writing and striking curiosity, she makes a solid case for making it so...This profoundly enriching survey nails it.
An exploration of the ways in which the wellness industry simultaneously commoditizes non-White cultures and renders services inaccessible to marginalized peoples...Ultimately, Róisín calls for a more sustainable, equitable approach to healing...Only occasionally dense, the author’s prose is engaging, and she delves into her past with vulnerability and self-compassion...The book is deeply researched and laudably includes the work of a variety of Black and Indigenous scholars to make a unique and relevant case for the need for greater accessibility to healing...A vulnerable, intensely trenchant analysis of the ways capitalism denies wellness for so many around the world.