cover image American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal

American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal

Kerri Kelly. North Atlantic, $17.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-62317-724-9

Whitewashed wellness culture gets a withering critique in this fiery debut by yoga teacher Kelly. Calling wellness “extreme materialism masquerading as a spiritual practice,” she suggests that the commodification of South Asian and Indigenous American mind-body traditions dilutes them and continues colonization’s legacy of injustice. Kelly traces the roots of wellness’s concern with attaining a “healthy” and “normal” body back to early eugenicists, finding that wellness places the “moral imperative” for health on the individual despite research showing “things like poverty, racism, and violence influence our well-being far more than individual behaviors.” The author also debunks the myth that fatness means ill health, drawing on studies that contest the relationship between BMI and chronic disease. Activities encourage readers to get involved in mutual aid, examine their “proximity to power and privilege,” and form community activism groups. With a crusader’s spirit and an activist’s mindset, Kelly joins a bounty of historical, sociological, and medical evidence in an informed understanding of how injustices intersect under the banner of wellness. Anyone interested in a more equitable approach to alternative medicine should read this. (June)