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Coaches, Gurus and Influencers as Self-help and Lifestyle Experts: from Insta therapy to becoming “that girl” on TikTok

Baker, S.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-4921-2456 Coaches, Gurus and Influencers as Self-help and Lifestyle Experts: from Insta therapy to becoming “that girl” on TikTok. In: Hanusch, F. (Ed.), The Handbook of Lifestyle Journalism. . Abingdon, UK: Routledge.


The twenty-first century has witnessed the proliferation of coaches, gurus and influencers sharing self-help and lifestyle advice online. Scrolling on social media users are inundated by posts featuring tips and secrets about how to improve their health, wealth and relationships. This chapter contextualises the rise of coaches, gurus and influencers espousing self-improvement advice in the history of self-help, tracing the development of self-improvement literature from the Greco-Roman world to the twenty-first century. In addition to situating the proliferation of self-help experts in the context of de-traditionalisation and low institutional trust, this chapter explores how technological developments have given rise to an industry of coaches, gurus and influencers who offer advice about health, relationships and wealth creation.

This chapter contributes to the field of lifestyle journalism by analysing the genre of self-help on short video platforms. It examines how the new medium of short video platforms has impacted the influencer economy and self-help by analysing two emergent types of lifestyle guru on these platforms: “Becoming that That Girl” on TikTok and Instagram therapists. The recent rise of short video platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, has contributed to the proliferation of brief videos extolling self-improvement advice on a range of lifestyle issues from mental health, financial success to personal relationships. Coaches, gurus and influencers are commonly referred to as experts and therapists despite often possessing no formal certification or mental health training. In addition to blurring of the boundary between influence and expertise, fact and opinion, this chapter explores the consequences of commodifying community and emotional experience.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter to be published by Routledge in The Handbook of Lifestyle Journalism, to be available online:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
[thumbnail of Baker_self-help chapter_lifestyle journalism.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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