The older I get, the more I resent marketers telling me what I should and shouldn't like. Maybe it didn't bother me as much when I was younger because the things I was being sold were cool and hip. But now that I'm in the "over 35" demo, not so much. Sure, there are the obviously insulting products like wrinkle creams and stretch-mark treatments, but what irks me most are the subtler items geared to ladies of a certain age...for example, the "Eat Pray Love" phenomenon.
A few years ago, the paperback was being passed around from mom to mom at a weekly play group my kids and I go to. Everyone said they loved it, but I just had no interest. Right off, I was annoyed by the title ("eat" being the only part I found remotely appealing), then when I heard what it was about...forget it. I'm sure it's an interesting and well-written book, but I'm just not a fan of "journey" books.
Then I started hearing about the movie--how Julia Roberts gained 15 pounds while filming the "eat" part in Italy--and I was turned off by how the trailers and print ads were positioning it as a middle-aged-chick flick. That image of Julia Roberts primly sitting in a picturesque Italian piazza, eating gelato with a tiny spoon, with a self-satisfied smirk on her face? I find it insulting. Oooh, here I am in Italy, indulging in rich gelatoooo! I'm so happy!
I knew it would be successful, and I imagined groups of recently-divorced 40-somethings seeing the movie on a "girls' night out" and laughing and crying together for two hours. This kind of movie is just not my taste ("The Other Guys" and "Avatar" being the last two movies I've seen in a theater) but that's not what bothers me about it. I have a problem with the whole idea that yoga can change one's life and that a savior or personal guru is needed in order to find oneself. It's a dangerous message. And then the whole I-found-a-hot-Latin-lover-and-lived-happily-ever-after ending? It's insulting and trite.
So that was bad enough. But then I started hearing about recently divorced women who, after reading the book, ran up huge credit card bills to go on their own "Eat Pray Love" (EPL) journeys in order to "find themselves" (and, hopefully, a Javier Bardem look-alike). A recent article in the New York Post tells of how these EPL "pilgrims" would "often end up broke, and broken" after spending all their money trying to find enlightenment. Scary stuff.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I opened yesterday's New York Times and saw this article, about "Eat Pray Love"-inspired candles from Fresh. A set of three candles--yes, you guessed it, one called "Eat," one "Pray," and the third "Love,"--each with a scent inspired by the name (e.g. the "Eat" one is lemon, basil, plum). I'm sure lots of women will be buying these $45.00 sets for their EPL-obsessed pals, and the thought makes me want to laugh. Or maybe cry.