Oct 08, 2020

The Chaotic Good trend encourages people to express themselves in non-traditional ways and treat their vulnerabilities as assets.

Culture+ is an editorial series that looks at trending topics and events with an eye toward what they reveal about our shifting culture. Culture+ Trends is a special installment of the series, where we break down the macro-trends that impact our audiences and businesses.

In Chaotic Good, we examine the evolution of wellness trends into something messier that have become a way to release anger and anxiety. We’ll also look at how young people are ditching diet fads, enjoying what they eat, and embracing the way they look through body positivity.

People are saying screw it to traditional forms of “wellness”—like juice cleanses and yoga—and instead are seeking new outlets to express themselves. The latest anti-wellness wellness trend, Chaotic Good, encourages people to ditch the common ways of seeking positivity and explore something messier.

Chaotic Good is about finding new ways to embrace personal wellness, whether that’s smashing a printer with a sledgehammer, screaming and drinking during yoga, or making a Tik-Tok about body positivity.


The Age of Anxiety

Consumers have recently become more proactive about mental health. In a world of constant stress and anxiety at work, online, and at home, previous forms of meditation don’t always suffice. In order to seek balance and embrace self-care, consumers are finding alternative methods to combat repressed tension.

Dr. Lana Wellness, whose professional name is Dr. Lana Butner, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist based in New York City, who performs treatments including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and cupping to promote unconventional ways to seek wellness.

“Aggression needs an outlet,” Dr. Butner says.

Some of the new and more accessible wellness services that consumers are exploring include “wrecking rooms,” where visitors can unleash their anger in a short period of time, or knitting—with a head-banging twist.

At The Break Bar in New York City customers can take sledge hammers to printers while blasting music. Afterwards, they can relax with a beer at the bar, just to destroy the glass it came in. Psychiatrists who are familiar with the bar have recommended it to patients, according to Tom Daly, president of Break Bar.

“I would class it as a form of stress release,” says Daly. “There is something just cathartic about the pop of a glass getting thrown against the wall.”

Besides breaking glass, knitting is often considered a cathartic activity, however, the type of knitting associated with chaotic good strays away from the typical calm.

Heavy Metal Knitting is a global competition, most recently hosted in Japan, and set to take place in Finland in July 2021. While competitors rock out and “knit on”—as per the competition’s slogan—Heavy Metal Knitting allows them to “accomplish something real and concrete.” According to Lina, an organizer of the event (who chose not to give her last name), “we want to bring together the talent of people of different ages and cultures and to help them overcome themselves in a new and fresh way.”

For Heather McLaren, 2019’s Heavy Metal Knitting champion, the competition was therapeutic. “It was a lot of fun, but it also reminded me that the depression I was suddenly dealing with doesn't define me,” she says.

Candid With A Cause

There’s also a wave of influencers and consumers who are being more candid on social media about their experiences and struggles, encouraging a healthy vulnerability.

One pocket of the movement is the trend of “anti-diet,” a term coined on social media to represent the movement towards happy eating over fad diets. Rather than liking an image of a perfectly photographed kale salad, influencers and users are being candid about what their bodies truly want.

A new generation of creators are also encouraging positivity, using comedy to generate awareness towards a kinder future.

Take influencer Rickey Thompson, who proudly says “I am loud, I am extra, and I love being me” on Instagram. Thompson, among others, contributes to the authentic wave of genuinity on social media as he uses his platform to share content that promotes self-love.

Chaotic Good encourages the extraordinary and for consumers, it offers the chance to take a stab at something new and enticing. “I would encourage everyone to try weird and wonderful things,” says McLaren. “Don't worry about what others might think, you'll have fun and it might make a big difference.”

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