Health Signalling Has Replaced The Humble Brag As Our Biggest Insta Bugbear

If you’ve recently had an urge to assure absolute strangers you’re bursting with health, you’re not the only one. The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t only ushered in a national obsession with banana bread, but also an inclination to “health signal” – or semaphore signs of all-round vitality. “Health signalling is the new humble brag,” says Alexia Inge, founder of online beauty emporium Cult Beauty, where sales in the wellbeing category have risen dramatically (118 per cent) over the past year. Whether conscious of it or not, most of us will have dabbled in health signalling in 2020, and here are just some of the ways we’ve been doing it.

The anti-cough

Mask or not, any kind of cough arouses suspicion in those nearby these days. The health signaller’s solution? The anti-cough, a half-way-there clearing of the throat that itches the scratch but doesn’t cause concern in others.

Step count boasting

A quick snap (uploaded to Instagram, of course) of an Apple Watch reflecting a rather hefty step count – the hallmark of the health signaller who believes a 10,000 tally is for quitters. Step count boasters also post photographs of autumn leaves in the park (code for: on a walk), their new hiking boots (intending to walk), and with their new dog (being walked).

Getting an allotment

City dwellers will attest that getting green-fingered was the stuff of dreams during both lockdowns in 2020. Those with gardens got busy planting courgettes and tomatoes, but the real champions were those who managed to bag an allotment. Nothing says health like eating your own produce.

Having a Peloton

Vogue staffers have reported seeing stealthily-placed indoor spin bikes – most commonly, Pelotons – in RightMove shots while browsing properties. Undoubtedly the biggest winner of the year, the indoor spin bike is the new way for fitness junkies to get their fix from the comfort of home.

Strava show offs

If you’ve not been privy to a million different screenshots of Strava runs on Instagram this year, then where have you been hiding? Those who aren’t tracking their steps are running instead – and an estimated one million people sign up to the app each month.

Wellness skin

The quality of our skin is as much a reflection of what’s going on inside our bodies as it is what we put on it. Hence ensuring it is as pampered (read: hydrated) as possible is key. While sales of make-up declined during lockdown, skincare was up, with one study showing that one in seven women used more facial treatment products while cooped up at home. The sheet mask selfie also became a thing.  

Bath tub “me” time

Nothing says wellbeing like a hot bath. Not just any old bath either, rather a luxurious bath oil and Epsom salt-filled steamy number, with all manner of flickering candles and a self-help book to boot. Insta pic or it didn’t happen.

General wholesome activities

Besides growing your own vegetables, other popular wholesome activities on the rise this year included flower pressing, making candles, painting, and whipping up innovative new dishes in the kitchen. It all helps on the path to being mindful and present, don’t you know?

Waking up early – too early

Last but not least, when it comes to the health signalling set, posting photographs of a sunrise always beats a sunset. That early bird always gets the worm, after all.

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