Weighty Matters: Groupon & LivingSocial
“Here’s to your Health!” was the subject line of an email that Groupon sent me earlier this month.
For those of you completely out of the loop, Groupon and LivingSocial are sites that offer daily deals all over the country (and world, at this point) at restaurants, retailers, and service providers. When they first broke a few years ago, I was a little obsessed. With my friends and family, I took advantage of everything from plane flying lessons to spa treatments, trying new restaurants and yoga studios all over the darn place and it was fabulous. Bur recently, due to much less funds in my life, and a sort of “been there, done that” attitude (except skydiving…still open to trying that), I am no longer really that involved in their deals but I still get their daily emails.
So back to that early November email. I was intrigued by the “Here’s to your Health!” slogan, so I clicked on the link. And here is what they were offering in terms of “health”: Massage, Electro-Slim Body Sculpting Sessions, Fat Reducing Treatment, Cellulite Reduction Treatments, and Medical Spa Treatments. Ok. So, 3/5 of those are specifically weight-oriented…and not even “health” weight oriented (such as fitness or nutrition classes) but “image” weight oriented (“Surgeon uses Cellulaze laser fiber to liquefy fat pockets in order to smooth cellulite-ridden skin“). Yes, Groupon does offer plenty of fitness deals and from time to time I see a nutrition oriented deal (such as a juice diet). But, even now, just clicking over to the “Health” section of Groupon right now, out of approximately 49 deals, 15 of them are specifically weight related (that’s almost 1/3) and many of the remaining are botox/face tightening/teeth whitening/injection related.
Now what’s the big deal? Cellulite is a problem, right? It’s something that affects so many of us, so why shouldn’t we get to save bucks on taking care of it? Well, here’s the big deal: this is what consumerist America thinks are “health” issues that we need taken care of. This is what we are being peddled day to day in our inbox: cellulite? GET RID OF IT! excess fat? LASER IT OFF! don’t want to work out? USE AN OBSCURE NONINVASIVE “BODY SCULPTING” TREATMENT TO CONTOUR THE BODY WITH NO DOWNTIME! (seriously, I’ve actually seen signs advertising this exact same procedure on the side of the road in Pennsylvania…that’s how legit it is). And so, deeper into our psyche seeps “You are not good enough how you are. You need to fix every flaw that you have and get a discount while doing it.” As if dealing with the media bombardment on a regular basis were not enough (explain to me how this “fashion” show is even still in existence, please, and how these models are functioning human beings), now we are bombarded directly in our inboxes with ridiculous and extravagant “image” consciousness as purported “health” issues. How exactly is this “health”? Sure, it could be argued that in order for you to need cellulite treatment in the first place, you must be overweight and therefore unhealthy but…that’s simply false. Plenty of thin people have cellulite (even Kate Moss, for goodness sakes!) due to genetics, aging, etc. It’s a damn fact of life that, just like most other things in existence, can be countered (at least somewhat) by healthy diet and exercise. Or, if you’re to believe Groupon, spending absurd amounts of hard-earned money (yes, even with the discounts) on obscure laser treatments. By advertising these treatments in their “health” section instead of under “beauty,” it intentionally makes the consumers feel that we are not taking care of ourselves (not “being healthy,” which I hope we all know at this point is a holistic process, involving body, mind, and spirit) if we do not opt to get laser surgery or cellulite treatment. And this is simply misleading and detrimental.
The point is: we cannot escape the constant pressure to look perfect, no matter where we go (if it’s not enough to see unattainable images of “beauty” plastered all over magazine covers at drugstores and newstands, now it’s coming straight to our inboxes!) but we can choose to ignore it and focus on our own actual health and well-being instead. We can choose to empower ourselves. We can choose to focus our time, energy, and resources on creating an actually healthy lifestyle for ourselves as individuals. Also, please notice that all these deals are specifically oriented towards women…as usual (yes, I know the picture above features a man, but he is the only one in all the pictures found, and I just loved that he was enjoying the pool next to his newly-lasered lover). As if we don’t have enough to worry about without stressing out about whether or not we should indulge in a cellulite treatment. Let’s get real, folks. The more time we are wasting focusing on stupid junk (sidenote: this is literal junkmail to me and may as well go to my spam folder with the likes of, for men, “enlarge your willie in one night!”) like this that the for-profit, commercial weightloss industry feeds us, the less we are spending on battling patriarchy and absurd social pressures. The weight loss industry continually uses body image as a hook to get women to spend their money on products or treatments by making us feel negative about ourselves and less than perfect. Don’t buy into (or buy at all, literally or figuratively) the hype.
Added 11/22/12: FRESHLY PRESSED: IT’S A THANKSGIVING MIRACLE!! I am so honored and proud to be featured in “Freshly Pressed”–it has been a long-time dream of mine in my 1.5 years of blogging and I am really grateful that this post was chosen. I thank you for reading and for all your wonderful comments. I hope you will follow HangryHippo (check out the sidebar!) to receive future posts of mine and that my words have made you think about something new today. Thanks again!
(Image courtesy of Groupon)