There are several problems with this. 1) As a friend whose father actually has restless leg syndrome noted, broadly labeling everyone who feels less than perfect one day with a serious condition is a disservice to people who actually have it. 2) It turns us into a pill-popping culture that expects any and every inconvenience to be solved in pill form (and let’s just hope those pills don’t interact poorly, eh?) 3) Marketing campaigns for these drugs makes everyone feel like they aren’t normal – or, perhaps worse, that it’s normal to be dysfunctional.
This third point is particularly disturbing in the context of women’s health, specifically sexual health. As if women didn’t have ENOUGH sources for potentially low self-esteem already! (For more on that, check out Miss Representation – an absolute must see doc.) Seeing women in the film go to extreme lengths to treat a disease they don’t actually have was just heartbreaking.
Then today, listening to the story in the Planet Money podcast on “Who Killed Lard?” of how we as a nation moved from cooking everything in lard to cooking in hydrogenated vegetable oil, I was struck yet again by how powerful corporate messaging can be. In the days when we ate what our grandparents ate, and they what their grandparents ate, no one ate things that came out of a laboratory. I mean, food? In a laboratory? That’s preposterous! Lard, from pigs, was natural! But now….look around? There ain’t nuthin’ natural about a Twinkie…or Cheetos….or what are those things at the checkout line anyway that look like red dog treats? Are those peanuts in there??? You get the idea.
And yet, thanks to marketing, vegetable oil run through some process to make it able to sit on your shelf for close to eternity in solid form became “pure and wholesome.” And, yes, normal. Just like Fritos are now normal, as are Mountain Dew (the neon beverage in whichPepsi swears a mouse would never survive) and oreos with florescent fillings (how better to celebrate Halloween than with copious amounts of red and yellow food coloring??).
Which all leaves me scratching my head…. how long will we accept what corporate marketing tells us is “normal” because our believing it makes for billions of dollars in business? Or will we take a step back, see the bigger picture, and, as dear Nancy Reagan once told us, JUST SAY NO?