You’ve probably heard that phrase before, if only prior to taking off for a holiday somewhere.
I’ve been seeing and hearing it quite a bit lately, and it’s typically aimed at women; I see it on ads, websites, and channels targeted to women, anyway. On the surface, it seems like a good thing; it is of course intended to counteract the years of conditioning to shut up, sit down, scoot over, take the smaller piece of pie, smile and look pretty, et cetera, et cetera, that women receive. Unfortunately, this message is also usually intended to get you to buy something. Y’know, ‘cause you deserve it.
Apart from the capitalist-in-sheep’s-clothing aspect, there are two things I really deeply dislike about this meme:
1. The relentlessness with which it is deployed. I’m sure women do need to hear that they are important and that should care for themselves. But hearing it once–or even once a week–is one thing. Hearing it daily, seeing it everywhere, turns it into another item in the nearly-endless list of How to Be a Lady: YOU WILL DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. DO IT. DO IT NOW. HAVE YOU DONE SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF? WE’RE WAITING…
2. The last word: “first.” Put the mask on yourself first...before you assist others. You’re no good to your kid/spouse/employer/community if you don’t take care of yourself. Sure, sure, you should be kind to yourself–but only or especially because it will allow you to better serve others. Which, lest you forget, is your duty.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care for our families or communities–nothing of the sort–but women should take care of themselves for their own sake (even if they don’t “deserve” it!), not because they need to maintain themselves like the family car: every 3,000 miles, take a bubble bath! It’s the same old crap in a shiny empowerfulicious box.
So, at the risk of adding to the hubbub I just decried: Take care of yourself. Whatever that means for you. All the time.