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|Written by Agnes Cadieux|
|Wednesday, 12 May 2010 00:00|
It's that time of year. Yes, we hear about it on the radio, get that coupon in our inboxes. We call our girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and cousins. Let's get together, girls, it's time for the National Women's Show! So on that fateful weekend we fill our wallets full of cash, strap on our most comfortable walking shoes, and prepare for an afternoon of celebrating the fearless, feisty female.
At least that's how it used to be. The show is touted as "the ultimate girl's day out," and once upon a time it was, which is why I so foolishly go back every year. I became a follower in the old days of the Ottawa Congress Center, back when Dove was campaigning for real beauty, sex shops were urging us to embrace the goddess within, and health and nutrition was still for the benefit of women not for profit.
For the past few years I have taken my mother, my closest girlfriend, and (though I had to carry out bribery and hog-tying) my husband down to Lansdowne Arena to see what people have come up with to make me feel like an appreciated, empowered woman. Here's what I have been seeing more of in recent years: Liposonix, Restylane, Isogenics, Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressings, and Costco. What? Costco? Salad dressing? How does that have anything to do with women? Scattered amongst these are booth after endless booth of knock-off D&G purses, teeth whitening procedures, and every high-end salon offering free up-dos if you just divulge all your personal information, so they can offer you a 15% discount off your next coloring with the purchase of . . .
At what point did this show turn into "yeah, you look good as you are, but I can make you look better"? Since when do I need to suck the fat out of my thighs and have it transferred into my lips, buy a $40 fortifying shampoo because I apparently have lifeless hair, and knock back a month's supply of horrible tasting cleansing drinks to make me feel like a worthy, competent part of society? When I first began my pilgrimage to downtown Ottawa some six years ago I didn't have to search for the local female entrepreneur who could work magic with silver and river rocks. I didn't have to bypass hungry vendors waiting to slather me with de-wrinkle cream in order to find the herbal and natural remedies to prevent disease. Instead of having miracle diet pills shoved down my throat, I would talk to wellness specialists who would discuss healthy weight-loss or stress-management and ogle at jewelry made in backyard Canada not mass produced in China. I would walk in and be excited to spend my afternoon amongst those people who wanted to show me that I am beautiful just as I am, and, oh, by the way, this is something fun and quirky that might complement your unique style.
When did this show become less about celebrating women, and more about appealing to their insecurities? I didn't pay fifteen dollars at the door for someone to point out which of my imperfections they have the ability to make better -- imperfections I didn't know I had to begin with. So why do I keep going back, you ask? Because I hold out for that one vendor who is still there to celebrate women not the paycheck. I still believe I can find someone invested in the true health and well being of my body and mind. Yes, I will go again and again. I will continue watching countless women get suckered into products that will make their lives "better." I will buy a locally made red pepper jelly and perhaps a Christmas gift for my sister, but I will also leave with a sour taste in my mouth. Even so, I will never lose hope that perhaps one day soon, the National Women's Show will once again be for women.