I was thinking today about some of the changes I’ve been trying to make in my life–taking better care of my skin, taking vitamins, paying more attention to what I eat, doing yoga–and I noticed a common thread. In each of these categories, there are plenty of products, plans, and “lifestyle changes” marketed to women. But all of these seem to imply that something is wrong with you. They’re targeted to women with particular “problems” or “issues.” So what’s a girl to do when she doesn’t “have a problem?”
We see this in the health care debate, when various players talk about how the problem is that we don’t focus on well care, that prevention isn’t emphasized. I think the same is true for all sorts of areas, not just our physical health (or well, these things are linked to physical health, but in some ways tangential).
I’m 24 years old. I’ve been living on my own for six years, and I’m getting the point where I realize I need to start taking better care of myself. I need to make some changes in my life for my health–to decrease stress levels, to make sure my body ages successfully, etc. It’s surprisingly difficult to find information, though, on topics such as basic skin care, nutrition, etc. I never washed my face because I didn’t have acne, and cleansers and such were always marketed to girls with “problem skin” or women with wrinkles. I know how to lose weight, but I know very little about which vitamins do what, or how a single woman can effectively cook for the week and factor in all those little nutrients that make up a “balanced diet.” I’m doing yoga now as a way to relax and energize myself for the day, but I always thought of fads like yoga and pilates as geared towards those who need to lose weight, who are inflexible, etc. etc.
This can’t exactly be uncommon for women in their mid-20s and 30s. Maybe our mothers are supposed to teach us these things, but if they don’t, what we hear is how to “fix” ourselves, not how to sustain our minds and bodies. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone–teachers, guidance counselors, the Internet–put an emphasis on these sorts of topics? I don’t know about you, but my health class was not telling me how to put together a balanced diet, do yoga, moisturize with SPF, or choose a vitamin supplement. We learned about how drugs and sex would kill us and how pretty much everyone’s family is dysfunctional.