Yesterday whimsical lifestyle blogger Gala Darling announced her new “Radical Self-Love Bootcamp,” a 30-day online program she is spearheading to teach her readers how to love themselves the way she does.
It costs $100.
For the cost (which she helpfully breaks down for you to a mere $3.00 a day!), Gala promises she’s going to “tell you exactly what to do” (her emphasis, not mine) to help you fall “truly, madly, deeply” in love with yourself.
This is truly, madly, deeply fucking offensive to me for a few reasons. The first reason is that this whole program banks on the idea that any one person’s happiness and “self-love” is the same or even remotely similar to anyone else’s. Your happiness and self-love does not come from the same place that Gala Darling’s does (and not just because she’s about to rake in thousands of dollars on this crap), therefore the concept that she or anyone can tell you “exactly what to do” to get there is bogus. Guidelines and information and advice are one thing. A step-by-step instruction book to Gala’s Rainbows-And-Cupcakes Version of Happiness is entirely another. I don’t think this girl’s head is entirely full of fluff and glitter — she’s clearly built quite the empire on her unique personality — but I do think she’s been blinded by years of adulation from her fans into thinking that she is somehow some kind of authority on happiness and self-love.
That is the second reason why this is offensive to me. If you are giving your hard-earned money to someone who claims they can help you break a cycle of self-loathing or even simply get to know yourself better, you should be giving that money to a professional. There are people who have gone to school for this kind of thing for many years, and these people know how to deal with every person’s individual issues on a personal level. They may not have cotton-candy-colored hair or adorable graphics to sway you aesthetically, but their advice and input will be much more valid.
As a person who’s struggled for much of my life with my own happiness — and in spite of my ongoing issues with depression and anxiety — I can confidently say that I know what it has taken for me to learn to love myself, personally. I can give other people advice on how they can get to the same place in their lives. But I would never deign to tell you that I know “exactly what to do” to get you from the black cloud to the silver lining, and I would certainly never charge you money for it. I am not a professional. I do not have all the answers. Neither is Gala Darling and neither does she.
So I’m pretty deeply fucking offended that someone who has, essentially, the same credentials as me — marginal writing talent, a domain name, and a vested interest in personal happiness (albeit Gala has a few thousand more readers and a few thousand more dollars in the bank) — would deign to think that she could give me advice on how to better my life. And that she would ask me to pay her for it. Gala, you don’t know me. You don’t know what I have gone through. You don’t know about the experiences and issues and relationships that have made me the person that I am and that have contributed to my own feelings of self-doubt. And you do not know those things about the vast majority of the readers that will sign up for your program and pay you $100 for the privilege of being told “exactly what to do” by someone who does not know exactly what to do.
Comments are not allowed on Gala’s blog, which means only positive feedback ever reaches her readers (and which also points to a slew of personal issues with criticism that she might want to work on before she starts touting herself as a self-love guru, as being entirely accepting of oneself is not the same as hiding from your shortcomings, but that’s another catty story). I am absolutely certain that some people have found their lives greatly improved by using Gala’s methods, and I’m thrilled for Gala herself that she’s found such joy in her own life. But the idea that she thinks she has some be-all, end-all key to happiness — and that she is going to charge her loyal readers for said key — is ridiculous and offensive and frankly leads me to believe she has very little understanding of serious mental health issues that can crush people with the self-doubt she’s claiming she can spirit away in thirty days.
See, while this kind of “program” might do well for people who’re already generally satisfied with their lives and are just looking for a little extra self-help, it marginalizes and invalidates people dealing with serious mental health issues. Gala’s 30-day “bootcamp” that promises to teach you to love yourself is the sparkly internet equivalent of people telling you to “just get over it,” to “work on yourself,” to “focus on the positive” and that things will somehow magically get better. This kind of attitude isn’t only offensive to people who are suffering from depression and other mental issues, it can be crippling. What if the 30-day program doesn’t work? Then what? Then you not only still don’t love yourself, but you’re out a hundred hard-earned bucks and you have the added feeling of having been hoodwinked by an internet persona, which certainly isn’t going to help any lingering feelings of internal doubt.
Which brings me to another reason why I find this so appalling: after spending a little time on Gala’s site, even the most confident girl can find herself devolving into a sneaky spiral of self-loathing. Who wouldn’t be blissfully happy and truly, madly, deeply in love with herself if she had Gala Darling’s life? A fabulous New York apartment, a wardrobe full of lovely frothy dresses and designer shoes, a collection of quirky high-profile friends, invitations to runway shows and designer presentations, and, oh yeah, a dream job where she gets to blog about bullshit and charge people for it. Gala’s readership is made up of young women who dream of having her lifestyle, and she presents it as some kind of idyllic wonderland we could all be living in if we just thought positively and followed her rules. It’s enough to make normal, average people leading normal, average lives think they must not be loving themselves the “right” way, which leads them to throw money at Gala in the hopes that they can somehow buy some of her luck and sparkle.
But you have to make your own luck and be your own sparkle (was that entirely too Gala-ish of me?). And maybe Gala’s program will help some people do that. But ultimately it seems like kind of a scam — not that I think Gala’s willingly scamming anyone. I think that her “bootcamp” worked for her (although right in her introductory paragraph she says it’s a journey she’s been on since 2006 — how more than five years of growth can be compressed into 30 days, I’m not sure), and I think her rose-colored glasses have rendered her a bit short-sighted, and not a little greedy.
Here are the things Gala promises to do in her Radical Self-Love Bootcamp (screencapped from her site):
Honestly, I wish I had an extra hundred bucks laying around so I could find out exactly what kind of advice she’s doling out. Instead, I’m going to look at these guidelines from an outsider’s perspective, and over the next few weeks, I’m going to attempt to write about each of them in relation to my own journey of self-discovery, confidence, and personal growth. I can’t say that my own experiences and thoughts on this stuff will absolutely help anyone else in their own quest, but at least I’m not charging for it.