Health

What Was the Worst Wellness Trend of the 2010s?

Did you also almost pass out during CrossFit? Catch measles from a wealthy, unvaccinated third-grader? Misguidedly try Soylent? Then come vote!

by Katie Way, Rachel Miller, Hannah Smothers, Amy Rose Spiegel, and Harron Walker
Dec 16 2019, 3:14pm

Image by Hunter French

The 2010s was the decade that wellness shed its fringe, hippie-dippy connotations and exploded into mainstream consciousness. According to the New York Times, the term was first coined in the 1950s, which is apparently when people figured out that there was more to health than reactively treating illness. Now, the term is so ubiquitous it’s hard to imagine life without it. So what, exactly, is wellness? It's fuddy-duddy health's hot younger sister. “It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Fly to Bali for a meditation retreat, or slather yourself in skincare products that cost more than a new washer/dryer combo; that’s wellness, baby. Drink some water or just b r e a t h e sometimes (because, duh, your insurance doesn’t cover therapy!!), and that’s wellness too.

It also happens to be incredibly profitable. Because “wellness” is so vague (it’s hard to argue with “listen to your body”) and also everyone feels kind of terrible all the time, wellness is fertile ground for entrepreneurial types peddling practices and products they insisted—with no real proof—would change our lives. In 2018, a non-profit called the Global Wellness Institute said the industry was booming (it grew 12.8% from 2015–2017), and valued at $4.2 trillion.

But whether you engaged in wellness this decade in the pursuit of optimization or just in lieu of like, actual healthcare, it’s undeniable that you probably encountered some pretty wild trends along the way. Did you also almost pass out during CrossFit, or accidentally broil your vag with a Goop-recommended yoni steaming? Double fist bone broth and kombucha while furiously performing barre exercises to prepare for your next Tough Mudder? Fidget spin for hours to distract yourself from the teatox ravaging your insides? Catch measles from a wealthy, unvaccinated third-grader? Then help us pick the worst wellness trend of the past 10 years!

worst wellness trends of the decade full bracket
Hunter French

Between Dec. 16 and Dec. 20, you'll be able to vote via Twitter polls for the things you believe made us stray furthest from God's light. (Matchups 1-16 will happen throughout the day on Monday; matchups 17-32 will kick-off on Tuesday. You can revisit this post every day to see winners and links to the latest updates.) Ranging from the overhyped to the straight-up dangerous, the things we ate and did and wore “for our health” are worth taking a look back on—if only to laugh, and then make sure to never, ever do them again.

wellness trend bracket upper left quadrant
Hunter French

Matchup 1

Menstrual cups—Mark this as the decade in which many people began fisting themselves in public restrooms, in order to empty their menstrual cups. Long popular in other countries, the menstrual cup went mainstream, big-time, in the U.S. in the latter half of the decade—even traditional tampon makers manufacture their own versions now. Cups are firmly chaotic good; they’re good for the environment, but you can’t use them without getting covered in your own blood.

MMA—MMA has been a competitive sport for some time, but in the 2010s, it enjoyed a moment of popularity as a workout… until everyone realized it’s too violent to reasonably pursue much beyond throwing some practice punches and doing some very light grappling. Arm bars hurt.

Matchup 2

The Shake Weight—The Shake Weight, a dumbbell that shifts around as you essentially jerk it off, was invented to capitalize on a nationwide fixation on Michelle Obama's toned arms. More than two million of them were reportedly sold after the 2010 debut of a lurid advertisement—in which women demonstrated how to use the device (again, by giving it a vigorous handjob)—that went viral.

Juices/juicing—Is juicing fruits and vegetables any healthier than simply eating fresh produce whole? No. Is there any scientific evidence that proves that drinking something like celery juice, which had a moment in 2018 thanks to self-professed “psychic healer” Anthony William, will reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, reduce your risk of cancer, or sustain your microbiomes (whatever the hell those are)? No. Is a fancy bottle of cold-pressed juice cheaper than a week’s worth of produce? No. Nevertheless, juicing persisted, becoming one of the biggest wellness trends of the past 10 years.

Matchup 3

Microdosing—Microdosing, or the act of regularly consuming a small amount of a psychedelic like LSD or psilocybin, rose to popularity in late 2015 among (where else?) Silicon Valley circles. The practice has been touted as a way to increase productivity and creativity. But microdosing is also just... being high at work, something not everyone can get away with.

Kale—In 2011, Gwenyth Paltrow (a harbinger for many items in this bracket) went on Ellen to demonstrate kale chips, and since then, the leafy green has known no peace. It has been massaged, chopped, baked, fried, and left to wilt in the homes of countless Americans, who, it now seems, are ready to abandon it.

Matchup 4

Keto—Keto, or the “ketogenic diet,” is a high-fat, low-carb meal plan designed to send the body into a state called “ketosis” and burn up stored fat; it spiked in popularity around 2017. Studies have shown it has benefits for people looking to control neurological disorders like epilepsy. Otherwise, it’s potentially bad for your brain because it deprives it of the glucose it needs to run smoothly. Plus, it’s notoriously hard to sustain. Have you ever gone out to eat while doing keto? It’s almost as bad as going out to eat with someone who’s doing keto.

Isagenix—Isagenix is a brand that combines two of everyone’s favorite things: multi-level marketing schemes, and an extreme low-calorie diet in the form of weight-loss drinks and foods. It’s been around since 2002, but enjoyed a moment in 2015, and it continues to advertise to vulnerable populations through multilevel marketing.

Matchup 5

Cryotherapy—The thinking behind cryotherapy is that, if ice packs help reduce muscle pain after workouts, then so will stripping down and standing in a booth in sub-freezing temperatures. There's no science to back up that cryo will help with soreness—but what it can do is give you frostbite, as Olympic champion sprinter Justin Gaitlin illustrated when he showed up to the 2011 World Championships with his feet scarred after he wore sweaty socks in a cryo booth.

Yoni egg—In 2017, we were reminded not to put just anything in our pussies when Goop began selling jade eggs meant to be shoved up one's vagina. The site claimed the crystal eggs could “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control,” which was quickly and noisily refuted by gynecologists, and for which Goop was eventually fined $145,000.

Matchup 6

#nodaysoff—Because of our deep aversion to loving ourselves, we closed the decade bragging about #grinding, #nevernotworking, and taking #nodaysoff from our jobs on social media. Come on, bb, let’s get that bread and that engagement! It’s not like the labor movement of the late 19th and early 20th century worked tirelessly to get us weekends, paid time off, the 40-hour week, and other necessary reprieves from capitalism’s clutches or anything!

Standing desks—In 2011, people rushed to rearrange their office spaces after a New York Times story quoted a doctor who said that sitting all day—like a lot of us do at our desks—is "lethal." Standing desks were supposed to be the solution to this, but even though they're somewhat helpful, they don't fully counteract the problems of sitting unless you're actually moving around. Rats.

Matchup 7

Corporate wellness—Corporate wellness is the latest iteration of workplace wellness, which has been around since the late 1800s, and has always existed to increase worker productivity. The current iteration of corporate wellness is mainly focused on mindfulness, but can also include, uh, taking DNA samples from employees or harassing a double-mastectomy patient into getting a mammogram. Surprisingly, these programs don’t actually contribute to workplace wellness. Go figure!

Bone broth—Every January since 2015, Google searches for bone broth have popped. A natural extension of the paleo, protein, collagen, and “clean eating” trends, bone broth is made by simmering animal bones in water… but enthusiasts claim it’s better than regular stock because it cooked for hours longer, thus pulling more nutrients from the bones. Bone broth promised to heal your gut, strengthen your bones and immune system, and give you healthier hair and skin. By 2016, you could make it in your Keurig. :(

Matchup 8

Collagen—You are what you eat… or, at least, that’s what we tell ourselves when we chow down on some collagen. The tissue-binding protein, which one dermatologist described as “the glue that holds the body together,” has become a $100 million industry over the past few years, with consumers gobbling down chewables, powders, and capsules of the stuff with the hope of increasing collagen production, reducing wrinkles, and looking younger. Does it work? Perhaps. There are some studies that suggest collagen supplements might improve skin elasticity and decrease signs of aging, though, as The New York Times pointed out in a recent deep-dive into collagen’s effectiveness, a lot of those studies are small and paid for by companies trying to sell us the stuff.

Chia seeds—One of the early "superfoods" that was strangely accessible (because they are, quite literally, the same seeds that produce Chia Pets). chia seeds first caught on as an addition to overnight oats (remember those?) in 2013. They magically add fiber to any dish and infinite wellness blogs purport them to be “filling”, but they also sometimes taste like dirt. They fell somewhat out of favor when bougie grocery stores starting packing them in tiny bags at an enormous markup.

wellness bracket lower left quadrant
Hunter French

Matchup 9

Quinoa—Though it's been around for thousands of years, quinoa, the ancient whole grain with origins in Peru and Bolivia, crested in popularity in Western culture over the past decade… right alongside Americans' aversion to simple carbohydrates. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 the "International Year of Quinoa." So throw it in a bowl! Watch those wild li'l spirals unwind! Remember that expensive fast-casual restaurants for the upwardly mobile didn't invent this! It's called quinoa, baby.

FitBits—Even though humans have had the ability to walk for millennia, this decade is when we decided to really get into walking, and the FitBit will forever live as a relic of this time. When aliens write their textbooks on the history of the Earth, FitBits will be documented as a mostly forgettable device that gently nudged us off our asses... at least until they all inevitably broke, and were shoved away in some drawer.

Matchup 10

Gut bacteria—Doctors have only begun to realize that gut microbiomes are an indicator of health, and that certain things like eating more fiber and probiotics can help maintain them. But with new findings come predators trying to capitalize, like those pushing cures for “leaky gut syndrome” and unproven diets personalized to one’s microbiome.

Not vaccinating your children—Being anti-vax is extremely stupid and actively harmful, and is the rare value shared by extremely wealthy liberals and Republicans. People who neglect to vaccinate their kids mostly do so because they’re worried about disproven side effects like autism. Vaccines are so soundly safe and medically advisable, that not believing in them is like thinking chemtrails are what happen when angels fart.

Matchup 11

Meditation—What haven’t people tried to cure with the ancient practice of meditation? Opioid addiction, depression, and anxiety are just a few conditions that have found themselves in the meditation crosshairs. Transcendental meditation, in particular, began having a moment in 2011. While meditation is itself not a bad thing, no one could accuse us of under-applying it.

Nootropics—A late entry into the dumb things we did this decade, nootropics are essentially just supplements like vitamins or OTC “male enhancement” tablets, but “for the brain.” Like many things on this list, the sweaty insecurity of Silicon Valley dwellers is to blame for this one.

Matchup 12

Apple cider vinegar—Instagram loves apple cider vinegar, which is supposed to be something of a cure-all: ACV will solve indigestion! Get rid of dandruff! Take care of a sore throat, reflux, and eczema! People use it topically for skin and hair issues, and take shots of it (diluted with water, one hopes) for digestive and other internal issues. There is no evidence it has any health benefits whatsoever, unless you're eating a salad underneath it—it makes for delicious dressing.

Mindfulness—Mindfulness is the act of being present in a given moment through meditation and other mental training, rather than spending the present lost in rumination or distracted thought. It originated in Eastern religious practices, but grew popular thanks to endorsements from the likes of Oprah in the mid-2010s; Time Magazine declared the advent of a “mindful revolution” in 2014. Now, it’s basically the copy-paste solution for any mental health woe one could experience and has ballooned into a $4 billion industry. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Matchup 13

Coconut water—Coconut water is water-like fluid harvested from the inside of young coconuts. Its sales doubled in 2011 and has enjoyed a steady popularity ever since thanks to its successful marketing as a healthy alternative to sports drinks and carbonated beverages. It is a natural source of potassium and electrolytes. But so are a lot of things. And coconut water, if I recall correctly, kind of tastes like cum.

Organic period products—In prior decades, it was enough to merely consume organic food; throughout the 2010s, the “organic” concept was expanded to include essentially anything that goes into your body. Despite no real scientific evidence that regular tampons are “toxic,” Gwyneth Paltrow suggested they might be, and so organic period products became incredibly trendy. This trend—which is still going strong, by the way—is particularly noxious because it frightened regular people into spending even more money on already expensive, overly taxed health products.

Matchup 14

Activated charcoal—While it has long proven effective at treating overdoses and improving digestion, activated charcoal got a cute new wellness makeover during the 2010s, popping up in everything from toothpaste to ice cream by mid-decade, largely thanks to its super Instagrammable, rich black color. Unfortunately, putting activated charcoal in something like ice cream has, if anything, a detrimental effect, sucking the calcium, potassium, and other vitamins right out of the frozen dairy treat before your stomach can absorb them.

Protein—After we thoroughly vilified carbs and fats, everyone realized that protein was the only macro left that we were allowed to eat. Diets front-loading protein— including Atkins, paleo, and keto—surged in popularity during the 2010s, and the boogeyman of “getting enough protein” continues to haunt everyone to this day.

Matchup 15

Tough Mudder—In 2010, Tough Mudder (and, later, Spartan Race and Warrior Dash) invited participants to run through mud, crawl under barbed wire and across giant nets, carry other entrants on their backs, and “work together to form a human pyramid against the steep, slick wall to get over the top.” By 2014, Racked reported, “Tough Mudder has soiled over 1.5 million participants... more than 4,000 of them even have Tough Mudder tattoos.” Thanks to the huge cost of putting them on—including the major marketing campaigns intended to convince people that they were actually safe—and the fact that most people do them once and are like “I’m good,” the races’ future remains uncertain.

CBD—CBD was undeniably the hottest wellness trend of 2019. CBD is a cannabis-derived chemical compound purported to produce a calming effect without the typical weed high, and its popularity exploded when it became gray-area legal thanks to hemp’s legalization. CBD is basically available everywhere, in many forms, but buyer beware: It’s still not federally regulated—thanks to FDA stall tactics—and that’s a big part of why it usually… doesn’t… do anything.

Matchup 16

Teatoxes—In the early 2010s, there was an explosion of “fit teas” with names like Bootea, Skinny Me Tea, and Flat Tummy Tea. Despite seeming to come out of nowhere, the brands apparently had big enough #sponcon budgets to get into the hands of influencers and A-list celebrities who shamelessly promoted them on Instagram. The teas promised to help you “feel light” or “fight bloat”... thanks to the help of senna, an FDA-approved ingredient that is essentially a laxative. In reality, they either did nothing or made you shit your brains out.

Fidget spinners—Fidget toys were supposed to reduce anxiety and help people concentrate; advocates claimed the toys could be especially helpful for kids who are on the autism spectrum or have ADHD. In December 2016, Forbes named them the “must have office toy for 2017.” By spring, they occupied every one of the top 20 bestseller slots in the "Toys and Games" category on Amazon, schools were banning them, and kids were choking on them.

wellness bracket upper right quadrant
Hunter French

Matchup 17

Insanity—Marketers know people love the (unachievable) idea of getting ripped without ever stepping foot in a gym. Insanity and P90X are high-intensity interval training (aka “HIIT”), but with extremely short rest periods between intervals. This makes the workouts so difficult, it’s almost as if no one could reasonably complete them, so anyone who tries ends up blaming themselves for not achieving the results. Interesting how that works.

Bulletproof coffee—Also known as “coffee with butter in it,” bulletproof coffee took hold in the Bay Area in mid-2014, with many coffee shops blending melted butter into hot coffee. That was it. People claimed drinking this beverage instead of breakfast suppressed hunger and promoted weight loss. As you can see, it worked and everyone is thin now.

Matchup 18

Essential oilsScented, plant-derived oils surged in popularity around 2017, in part thanks to wellness conspiracists like InfoWars' Alex Jones and Goop's Gwyneth Paltrow, who marketed their purported health benefits to their followers. Multi-level marketing companies like doTerra and Young Living also popped on Facebook, where distributors push them to their friends, claiming they can cure… just about anything a person might like for them to. Medical science points out that they're possibly good for aromatherapy—but that you might want to also try actual medicine for what ails you instead of what amounts to homeopathic perfume.

Adaptogens—While adaptogens—like so many other modern wellness “trends”—have roots in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, a lot of (white) people came to the herbs in the twenty-teens via Gwyneth Paltrow. The most famous adaptogen of this era was the GOOP-approved Sex Dust®, “a stimulating adaptogenic blend of Shatavari, Shilajit, Epimedium, Schisandra, Cacao & Maca” that “ignite[s] creative energy, in & out of the bedroom” and costs $38 for 1.5 ounces.

Matchup 19

The moon—Given the Moon’s historical associations with some kind of divine feminine, it’s no wonder that the modern wellness industry—which often targets female consumers whose experiences with mainstream medicine have been alienating and unsatisfying—commodified the shit out of li’l baby roundie in the 2010s. There was Moon Milk (a.k.a., hot milk with added spices, honey, and nutrient-dense supplements called “adaptogens”); Moon Juice (a wellness brand that sells stuff like Beauty Dust and Yoni Oil); and apps like Co-Star (teaching people what to say when their Tinder date asks them “What’s your moon sign?”) Even non-wellness brands got in on the action, selling moon phase-themed home décor and moon-shaped jewelry to crunchy aunts in Vermont and women from L.A. who wear those big floppy-brimmed hats. Congrats to the Moon for selling out!

Whole30—Scientifically speaking, Whole30 is a diet; its creators, however, would prefer that you consider it an entire lifestyle overhaul, a way to heal your body’s woes with carefully selected food. Like with most draconian diets, the two major problems with #Whole30 is that it is so obsessive it hedges on disordered eating; and it’s impossible to follow without talking about it constantly.

Matchup 20

Cauliflower rice/zoodles—Who didn’t buy a zoodler or ricer three-ish years ago? It seemed so fun: all the delightful shape of pasta but without the dreaded carbs. Wellness blogs and influencers pushed this for years before everyone realized these versions of wet mush are no substitute for the real thing, and carbs are not actually the enemy.

Oil pulling—Oil pulling, or swishing an oil around one’s teeth for 10-20 minutes at a time, comes from a time before we had anything resembling modern dentistry. Yet in 2014, everyone started talking about it. Then everyone realized it was gross, time consuming, and didn’t replace regular brushing. Ah, well.

Matchup 21

Rock climbing—Was the 2017 deluge of dating app photos of men rock climbing worth any of the health benefits people got from rock climbing? The matter is extremely debatable. Still, rock gyms where people could climb walls with the literal and figurative support of their rock climbing peers are going to remain popular into the next decade.

Arianna Huffington’s $65 phone bed—Step back into the fever dream that was Arianna Huffington’s mid-2010s rebrand as the “Queen of Sleep,” as one SELF contributor called her. In 2016, the billionaire author and businesswoman published The Sleep Revolution, and the following year she began selling a $65 phone bed through one of her companies, Thrive Global. The phone bed is exactly what it sounds like. “You put your phone under the blanket and you tuck it in and say goodnight,” she told a CNBC reporter in 2017. Despite the fact that no piece of overpriced doll furniture ever could solve capitalism, the phone bed remains available for purchase.

Matchup 22

Hair gummies—Thanks to the pioneering efforts of The Bachelor’s most shameless castoffs in the mid-2010s, the world got sold on the idea that a blue pastel gummy bear could maybe give us luxurious locks. But do hair growth gummies really work? Publications have been asking that question since at least as far back as 2015, and, despite the completely static scientific evidence about biotin’s ability to strengthen brittle nails and make hair grow thicker and faster (it’s insufficient, babes!), they always come to the same conclusion: We should write a blog about it and “find out.” Meanwhile, in 2019, influencer overlords James Charles and Tati Westbrook almost murdered each other over SugarBearHair promo. As Natasha from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 8 would say, some people have war in their countries!

Intermittent fasting—”What even is intermittent fasting?” became a popular question at the end of this decade, typically followed by, “Isn’t that just… skipping breakfast?” Basically, yes. There are a few different popular models that people follow, and all of them involve “mindfully” not eating for some period of time, under the guise of “wellness.” The limited studies on IF were mostly performed on mice, so, if you’re not currently in a fast period, take the evidence on this diet with a tremendous grain of salt.

Matchup 23

Seltzer—You may feel like a beacon of virtuous hydration if you're never without a seltzer close at hand (even if it erodes the enamel on your teeth if you drink it constantly, or by itself without food). This may be because, somewhere between 2010 and 2015, more and more people started to ride the La Croix wave and continue to surf those same carbonated Peach-Pear tides today. It's not just this one brand, though—SodaStreams, though ethically contentious in 2014 (coincidentally, the same year I blew mine up trying to carbonate a bottle of vodka), were hugely popular in the 2010s, and seltzer's popularity has now blossomed into a national obsession with canned alcoholic seltzers like Truly and White Claw (arguably a better approach to carbonated booze than my own). People just love this churched-up water.

Peloton—A Peloton is a $2,200+ exercise bike with a screen attached that allows riders to stream Peloton workout classes ($39/month), from the comfort of their beautifully sparse Black Mirror-esque homes. The brand—which is beloved by celebrities like Hugh Jackman and other unknown Rich People—was founded in 2012 and has been “selling happiness” (again, for $2,245 + $39/month) ever since. If you are looking for a vaguely culty bougie fitness trend to get into, but can’t afford to buy a Peloton for yourself, there’s always the possibility that Hubby will gift you one.

Matchup 24

Kombucha—Kombucha is a fizzy fermented drink that tastes like alcohol (not in a good way) but is not actually alcoholic. Lovers of the yeasty bev claim it helps with digestion (thanks to probiotics) and rids your body of “toxins.” Around 2014, several kombucha brands launched, and true fans started making their own at home (which requires something called a SCOBY or “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast”—yum!). But for all its faults, kombucha did bring us this good meme.

My Fitness Pal—This app, which allows users to document the foods they eat and the exercise they do, made counting calories (also a practice common to eating disorders, by the way) mainstream when it topped the first edition of Consumer Reports' dieting-program ratings in 2013. CICO, or logging one's "calories in, calories out" is the colloquial term for the app's central approach to weight loss (which is also highly evangelized on the popular subreddit r/loseit), and My Fitness Pal is how its followers log their daily bread. There are now more than 140 million MFP users, meaning a whole lot more of us who now know exactly how many calories are in cherry Blow Pops, hummus, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and everything else we put into our bodies.

wellness trends bracket lower right quadrant
Hunter French

Matchup 25

Waist trainers—"Who doesn't love to feel tight & right?!?" wrote Khloe Kardashian in a 2014 Instagram caption underneath a photo of herself in what appeared to be a tight black corset. She and her sisters Kim and Kourtney proceeded to wallpaper the internet with photos of themselves wearing waist trainers, often while working out. The compressive abdominal sleeves squinch their wearers' stomachs restrictively, supposedly to target fat loss around that area and help you sweat more. This has no basis in science, and is actually mad dangerous, no matter how "tight and right" they purport to make their wearers feel in a gym selfie.

All the milks—The 2010s saw an explosion of “milks” that aren’t actually milk, much to the chagrin of the dairy milk industry, which launched a legal battle against the plant-based milk industry over their flagrant use the term “milk.” I, too, take issue with all the new non-milk milks, but not because they call themselves milk. There’s just too many of them! Look, I love oat milk as much as the next white woman, but between oat, soy, almond, coconut, cashew, pea, and hemp—not to mention all your standard dairy milk variétals—there are simply too many milks now!

Matchup 26

MatchaEvery cafe in 2015 was serving matcha, a powdered green tea that appeared first in 12th century Japan. Matcha has a meticulous preparation process that involves whipping the powder into water with a particular type of whisk, because the mindfulness aspect of creating the tea is supposed to be equally as important to one’s health as the tea itself. Eventually people realized they didn’t have time for this between meetings.

Barre—Despite being around in the U.S. since the early ‘70s, barre—a boutique fitness class where regular people pay upwards of $30 to do tiny, isometric moves, meant to give them the physique of a professional ballerina—exploded throughout the decade. By 2015, Pure Barre (one of the biggest barre chains in the U.S.) had opened nearly 300 studios; it’s since become impossible to go anywhere without seeing hordes of women in Lululemon tights and barre-themed graphic tees.

Matchup 27

CrossFit—Sorry to everyone who has no desire to hear the word “WOD” (workout of the day, pronounced wad) thrown around in casual conversation like it’s a giant tire. CrossFit, a no-frills workout class with timed activities like Olympic lifts, headstand pushups, and flipping tires, exploded in the twenty-teens. But anyone who is Facebook friends with a CrossFit enthusiast already knew that.

Crystals—Crystals are gorgeous rocks that believers say harness energy, which can then be used to heal, to attract, and to manifest (or, at least, look nice on a table). The trend apparently sprang out of an uptick in interest in quartz jewelry around 2007, and gained traction throughout the decade. We’re still in the thick of it, even though crystal mining is deeply unethical and environmentally unsound. At least it’s also proven pseudoscience!

Matchup 28

"Cool girl" vitamins—From bidets to toothbrushes to face rollers, the budding direct-to-consumer wellness industry excels at making decades-old products seem hot, fresh, new, and somehow superior. Case in point: companies like Ritual and Care/of, which ushered in a new age of “cool girl vitamins” with “super shareable” packaging and branding despite literally just selling the same old stuff that our moms have been buying for years.

TRX—TRX, or the more general “suspension training,” is a kind of workout that popped in early 2018 and involves using woven nylon straps suspended from the ceiling. It sounds cool and futuristic, but imagine the disappointment when we all got to the TRX class held at the local gym, only to find out it’s still pushups and rows, just harder.

Matchup 29

Clean eating—Clean eating, a fairly vague method of consuming strictly “whole” or “unprocessed” foods, was a major addition to the “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change” canon. Thanks to the tireless work of young, thin, white female Instagram influencers, it became a trendy umbrella term that can include nearly anything—vegetarian, vegan, raw-vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free—but almost always includes cauliflower “pizza.”

No Fap/No Nut November—No Nut November is a trend rooted in mens’ proclivity toward doing stupid shit that harms only themselves for no reason and/or for reasons rooted in deeply held misogyny. The Reddit-based challenge involves simply… not orgasming for a month, despite this having no health benefit or implication at all.

Matchup 30

Soylent—Soylent is a line of meal replacement products, best known in ready-made beverage form. It hit the U.S. marketplace in 2014 after one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever, and has remained a hit with engineers and people who hate eating food. Its original flavor tastes like extra bland cereal, and its founder has been explicit about his desire to completely obliterate food. Good luck with that.

SoulCycleThat recent dystopian Peloton ad makes it easy to forget when SoulCycle, the boutique chain of indoor group cycling studios (which now boasts over 80 locations in North America and the U.K.) was the hot new bougie wellness craze… at least among the wealthy, coastal types who lived near one of the exclusive studios and could afford to pay $35 a class to visit. But at the end of the decade, SoulCycle was dealing with a failed IPO, Peloton’s emergence as a bona fide competitor, and the news that Stephen Ross (the parent company’s chairman) was fundraising for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Chrissy Tiegan boycotted, the CEO stepped down, and Manhattan’s woke trophy wives were left wondering how they’d tone their asses going forward.

Matchup 31

e-cigs/juul—The rapid glow-up (and even-more-rapid fall) of e-cigs and vapes was pretty incredible. At the beginning of the decade, e-cigs were cumbersome contraptions that earned their users a fair amount of bullying; cut to 2018, and everyone (including teens) could be found sucking on their JUULs. The decade comes to a close with vaping’s safety in serious question.

Vaginal steaming—Vaginal steaming is sort of what it sounds like: You steam some water, add a blend of herbs, and squat, all in the pursuit of a “cleaner”… vagina. Vaginal steaming caught some heat after Gwyneth Paltrow recommended the procedure on Goop in 2015, and a bunch of gynecologists were immediately like, “Hey, don’t do that, you could burn your vagina and also, it’s a self-cleaning oven.”

Matchup 32

Paleo—The paleo diet, which hit big in January 2014, is based on the idea that for optimal health, we should all be eating like cave people did—because, the thinking goes, humans haven’t evolved enough to be able to eat foods like dairy, legumes, or even potatoes without it leading to health problems. It’s mostly just a low-carb, high-protein diet, and despite the fact that there’s no real evidence backing it up—and only a cop would ban potatoes—it’s probably the reason there are now 30 types of artisanal jerky brands with names like “Mastadon” and “Prîmatîv” available at Whole Foods.

Athleisure—Athleisure is all about paying a lot of money to look like you’re at the airport. Think Lululemon leggings, the Outdoor Voices “Exercise Dress,” and hideous sneakers with four-digit price tags. The I’m-not-actually-working-out workout clothes hit the mass market around the mid-2010s and have remained a surprisingly controversial topic ever since. Critics say athleisure essentially makes you a banner ad for “conspicuous consumption” and force strangers “to get an up-close and personal view of your rear end.” (But, c’mon, is anyone really gonna turn down an excuse for looking like garbage in public? Athleisure isn’t going anywhere.)

Round 2: What Was the Worst Wellness Trend of the 2010s?

Round 3: What Was the Worst Wellness Trend of the 2010s?

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the 2010s
End of the Decade