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Out of touch: Coronavirus crisis is the wake-up call wellness gurus need

Elitist and hitting the wrong tone, some wellness mentors are using the coronavirus to promote their own 'supportive' products at this time - but people just aren't buying it, writes Meadhbh McGrath

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has struggled to hit the right tone

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has struggled to hit the right tone

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has struggled to hit the right tone

The digital wellness industry is booming. As the coronavirus spreads, many of us around the country are doing Joe Wicks's PE classes with the kids, bowing our heads in "namaste" with YouTube star and yoga teacher Adriene Mishler, or practising mindfulness with apps such as Headspace and Calm. Yet the pandemic is proving to be a bit of a minefield for wellness gurus.

While many have the best intentions for their followers, promoting positivity and self-care, brands must navigate the pitfalls of marketing amid the outbreak. It's a difficult balance: we're not feeling all that well right now, which has led to a surge in demand for health and wellness content online. Most of these brands, however, are better known for recommending kale smoothies and vagina-scented candles than hand-washing techniques and social distancing.

Wellness, of course, doesn't simply mean "being well". Modern use of the word dates back to 1959, when it was popularised by American doctor Halbert L Dunn, the so-called father of the movement. He defined wellness in contrast with good health: health meant the prevention of illness - an objective truth of modern medicine - whereas wellness was more subjective; an active, ongoing pursuit of "a high potential of functioning".