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The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

The Misrepresentation of ‘Self-Care’

Self care is a more commonly misconstrued journey than it appears to be, which can be detrimental to people’s mental health.
Oftentimes in the media you commonly see the word “aesthetic” associated with self care. This stems from the idea that self care needs to be aesthetically pleasing in order to be worthwhile. However, this idea is completely false and can lead to much discouragement amongst people and lack of certainess in self care practices. This photo is good proof of how the media uses techniques such as color-matching, specific placement of items, and minimalism in their photos to push this idea to consumers. (Photo Credit: Brooke Lark / Unsplash)

The misrepresentation of self-care in the media can potentially lead to more problems for the people who influenced by these ideas. A lot of misrepresentation is spread throughout the media, such as regarding gender norms, the negative stigma behind taking time for yourself, and the need to follow a “guideline” for self-care. Self-care is an extremely open topic that leaves room for many different interpretations of its meaning, according to experts in social media. 

Over years of technological advancements, trends continue to come and go. Self-care is a direct example of one of these trends — self-care has become so popular that it has strayed away from its original purpose. Despite being a popular discussion topic within the media, self-care has become a prominent and commonly misconstrued concept. Rather than supporting the concept that a person should focus on healing themself, self-care has become an indulgence in one’s infatuation with purchasing the “correct products.” The true purpose of self-care is all about healing work, both mentally and physically. Although the concept is broad, the overall purpose of self-care is for people to recognize the unhealthy components of their lives and use the resources around them that they can use to benefit themselves. 

Allowing these false claims about self-care to come into light and gain popularity negatively affects consumers and portrays self-care as a “trend” rather than as an extremely important healing exercise. 

Many young teens have particularly been affected by certain ideas pushed by the media onto them. “Nowadays, many people believe self-care is solely dependent on skincare rather than prioritizing yourself over things such as grades or anything else,” said Maimuna Noshin ’26.

Oftentimes, self-care is associated with indulging in products such as face masks or bubble baths. However, the reality of self-care is that it’s not exclusively dependent on the physical aspect, but on mental work as well. 

There are two official definitions of self-care. The first is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health,” and the second is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress.” Self-care, in its entirety, is centralized around the preservation of one’s mental and physical health.

However, when compared to the view pushed by social media, self-care is a surface-level practice pertaining only to one’s physical appearance. While there are elements of self-care in one’s physical appearance, the problem exists in the idea that self-care is solely based on physical aspects instead of a mixture of physical, mental, and emotional developments. 

A lot of misconceptions about self-care stem from the media and large companies pushing the concept that self-care has to include expensive products in order for it to work. This, however, is all a marketing ploy, something to get consumers to buy more products and spend more money. This is not to say that self-care cannot include skincare or expensive products, but that is not the only component of it. 

Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a licensed psychiatrist who specializes in women’s health, states, “Commercialized faux self-care products claim to fill in the gaps in access to health care or therapy by convincing consumers ‘that if you do more of this one particular thing, eventually things will feel better — when in fact, the only purpose of a juice cleanse or a massage is to keep you buying more of the thing.’” 

Non-commercialized self-care can look very different and less dramatic than the media portrays it as. Self-care comes in many forms and can be extremely noticeable if used in everyday life. 

Another common misconception about self-care is that it is inherently feminine and, therefore, only for women. However, this is not true. The issue with this misconception is that it discourages men from also indulging in self-care. It is important for everyone, regardless of gender, to spend time performing acts of self-care.

“A lot of men when they think of self-care, quite frankly, imagine a woman in a bubble bath with a glass of champagne — and that’s just not manly. They think that if they’re taking time for self-care, they’re losing productivity, and time from work. And that goes against what society tells us is masculine,” said Gregory Brown, founder and director of the Green Psychiatry Center.

Self-care practices are not always going to be the same for everyone. The practice of self-care is individual to people and their needs, and it is important to recognize this early into your self-care journey. Allowing yourself to believe the misconstrued information about self-care can lead to many insecurities and have negative effects on your mental health.

Although false information floating around about self-care may not seem detrimental to people who are blindly following this information, the reality is that it can ultimately worsen their issues. Spreading false narratives of guidelines and expectations within self-care can cause people to diminish their issues as being “not worthy” of being resolved and overall push people out of practicing healthy self-care habits. 

The issue with misinterpretation, in general, is how fast it gets spread. When people hear a rumor about self-care, they spread it to other people, who do the same thing. This creates a never-ending chain of misinformation.

Self-care doesn’t look the same for everyone. While it may work for some people to take a mental health day or go to the spa, others might need to fit in and reflect on their recent actions, or practice journaling. There are infinitely many possibilities to how people handle and go about their self-care habits, and it’s important to recognize that self-care is personalized for each individual. 

Additionally, misinformation about self-care is more likely to affect those with mental health issues. Misrepresentations of self-care can lead people to think that buying expensive products will suddenly fix their mental issues or help regulate their emotions when in reality, they haven’t worked on themselves at all during this process. 

Working on yourself relates to both mental and physical aspects, as self-care falls under an extremely broad range and can be more or less based on the person and the things they are correcting within themselves and their lives. 

Additionally, people with mental health issues are generally more vulnerable and likely to be negatively affected by untrue facts about self-care. In most situations, these people with mental health issues are looking for support and advice on how to deal with the issues within their lives, and it’s very easy to mislead them, especially in vulnerable situations. 

This could also fill people listening to this false information with uncertainty about self-care in general, placing a false narrative in their heads that if they cannot afford or do not have these expensive products, they cannot partake in self-care or it will not work for them. This simply isn’t true and can be a very detrimental mentality — self-care is a journey everyone can partake in, regardless of whether they have expensive products or not. 

The truth about self-care is that it comes from the mental work that you do to fix the underlying issues you have within yourself. However, this is not to say that it won’t help everyone; people should look deep within themselves to figure out what truly works for them. Everyone is different — but true ‘self-care’ comes from solving your issues, not avoiding them, and putting these practices in place as a distraction. The importance of self-care is to listen to your body and to give yourself time to reflect on your actions. 

“There’s no shortcut,” Dr. Lakshmin said, “but rethinking how you take care of yourself can slowly transform your quality of life.” 

Enhancing self-care practices can be personalized for these individuals and what they need, and there are many ways to do so. “I like to think about self-care as anything that prioritizes your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This could look like listening to music, eating nutritious foods, or even saying no to someone,” said Ariel Richard, a licensed self-awareness coach. 

Self-care doesn’t have to be a long, intricate process. It can be something as simple as saying no or taking a moment to breathe and reflect on your day. What works for these people will not work for everyone, as that is perfectly acceptable. 

“Self-care is like treating yourself to an off-day, letting your body rest and reset from the previous days and stress,” said Denisse Herrera ’26.

One way to improve your self-care practices is to identify and truly understand what you need to change or work on within yourself. This is important to do in order to understand what it is that you need to focus on improving or changing. Identifying your issues or what you would like to change can be done in many ways and can range in difficulty depending on the person. Some issues might require you to dig deep down within your mind and take some time to reflect. 

Some effective self-care strategies are journaling, as simply writing down your thoughts and emotions can help you better understand them. Exercise is also a great way to strengthen your self-care strategies, and it has been proven to improve your health overall, both mentally and physically. Being in a good mental state is extremely important to self-care, seeing as it can alleviate symptoms of various mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. 

Although some issues may seem only on the surface level, there is a large relationship between physical and mental health. For example, experiencing excessive stress can lead to a depletion of both physical and mental health. Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand. 

Another way to improve your self-care journey is to set boundaries with people. One problem that leads to the use and importance of self-care is the lack of boundaries set by individuals. These boundaries can come in many forms, whether they are within family, friends, or even yourself! Boundaries are the first step in self-care, because they allow people to have time away from others in order to reflect and do whatever they need to improve themselves.  

Despite the large quantity of misrepresentation that self-care has in the media, this does not mean that all information is false. It is important to do your own research with self-care and to consult professionals in order to find reliable information. Although there is a lot of discouragement with the wrong knowledge floating around, self-care is something that everybody should practice.

Whether it’s something as small as walking through a park, or something as big as seeking therapy, self-care is extremely important to mental and physical health, and it is even more important that you base your practices on it being personalized to you and the things you need to fix within yourself.

Everyone is different — but true ‘self-care’ comes from solving your issues, not avoiding them, and putting these practices in place as a distraction.

About the Contributor
Angeline Rivera, Staff Reporter
Angeline Rivera is a Staff Reporter for ‘The Science Survey.’ As a journalist, she loves to captivate the readers and share her knowledge and passion with other people through her writing. To her, journalism is educating others on her interests in a thoughtful and carefully put-together way, making sure to hold the attention of those reading. She believes that journalistic writing allows for the truth without bias to be stated and read, leaving an everlasting impact on people’s lives. Journalistic photography is a way for her to show others the little details of what is currently happening, even when most people don’t realize it. Much of her free time outside of school is spent making art, baking, and reading, all hobbies to which she is completely devoted. Although her future career trajectory is not completely decided, Angeline has a passion for medicine and hopes to one day become a travel nurse. Regardless of her future career, journalistic writing will have a lasting impact upon her life and continue to be one of her life-long passions.