Let me begin by apologizing for my absence. I’ve been around on teh Intert00bz but I’ve been so distracted, between moving and my ever-disappearing brain thanks to the pregnancy, that I haven’t had the proper attention span to actually post anything. Well I’m back! I’m buckling down and getting into a frequent-post routine. So… yeah, I hope that’s happy news. I know it is for me.
As I’ve mentioned, oh… 50 times every day for the last few months, I’m expecting a baby in January. Jason and I found out recently that it’s a girl and we’re super excited for her to get here already and eventually make in-laws out of Elyse and me. Lately I’ve been experiencing some crazy anxiety and anxiety-related stress. Helloooooo panic attacks! I have diagnosed anxiety for which I took medicine, but had to stop them when I found out about the peanut, and I’d rather not start taking Lexapro or Paxil while pregnant even though my OB told me it’s a relatively common thing for women with anxiety. If they become uncontrollable or any more severe, I’ll take it into consideration.
Generally when I start having a panic attack I breathe deeply and focus on getting my heart rate back down – after freaking out and crying while hyperventilating. Still, I’m always looking for different ways to relax – for example, while I don’t believe that meditation actually heals anything, listening to a guided meditation relaxes the crap out of me. It’s the soothing voice of the narrator, I think. I don’t need to do visualizations or anything – just listen. That being said, I didn’t even think twice when I received an e-mail from the pregnancy website to which I subscribe, asking if I’d like to learn pregnancy relaxation techniques.
I went to the questionnaire, which was displayed on a survey-hosting site, and took the 20 minute “interview.” The interview asked for absolutely no personal information aside from age and race – so I guess I’m lumped in with mid-20’s white women everywhere regardless of environment? It did, however, ask the longest series ever of the same few questions worded differently each time. What are your most common stressors? Do you lead an active lifestyle? Do you maintain a healthy diet? Do you murder people in the face when you’re stressed out? Yes. Yes I do. Anyway I finished up, gave my e-mail address and was immediately sent my “personalized” stress-relieving system.
Then I looked at the website.
It doesn’t look so horrible on the surface, but the topics change every day and in my introductory e-mail I was informed that we would be using techniques such as “self acupressure.” Holy red flag, Batman! Do you see the little “my products” tab? That’s for the aromatherapy lotion, body wash, facial cleanser, etc that they encourage you to buy throughout the calming process. Yeah. Here’s what the site had to say about that:
Everything in the UPLIV Stress Management Program was carefully and scientifically developed to contribute to the success of the program. This includes the three delightful Active Essences that you can choose for your UPLIV products: Ocean of Clarityâ„¢, Field of Happinessâ„¢, or Canopy of Tranquilityâ„¢. The UPLIV Active Essences were developed by a top international fragrance scientist who trained at a prestigious perfumery school in Grasse, France. Inspired by the unique, multi-disciplinary approach of AromaScience, the Active Essences were created specifically for the products in the UPLIV program to produce feelings of relaxation. These proprietary Active Essences distinguish themselves by their specially selected ingredients that deliver relaxing and uplifting benefits. Using visual mood profiling, a proven technique to measure emotional responses to scent, these Active Essences were proven to elicit relaxing and refreshing moods.
Don’t worry! It was carefully and scientifically developed! By a top international fragrance scientist who trained at a prestigious perfumery! You know, THAT one!
So I got my package of smelly stuff Friday. You didn’t really think I could not try this nonsense, did you? The first package they send you is free, so I was in. I’ll be calling to let them know I don’t wish to receive any more packages or incur bills.
Here are the contents of the monstrous shipping box (for what I thought were just samples). From left to right, there are two (2) Field of Happiness body wash, one Field of Happiness lotion, one Ocean of Clarity face wash, one Ocean of Clarity linen spray and one Canopy of Tranquility hand cream. [And yes, that’s my Darth Vader coffee mug in the background. He’s been turned into a sugar bowl.]
Ocean of Clarity Active Essence
Aqueous and pure, this refreshing fragrance captures the bliss and vitality of a soft ocean breeze.
Ocean of Clarityâ„¢ will soothe you with a gentle blend of white floral blossoms, then invigorate with an uplifting splash of citrus and ginger spice.
Field of Happiness Active Essence
Carefree and light-hearted, this sunny fragrance harnesses the radiance and freshness of aÂ dazzling countryside.
Field of Happinessâ„¢ will inspire with the light sweetness of blooming jasminejoined with the crisp freshness of watery green tea notes and botanical herbs.
Let Field of Happinessâ„¢ bring energizing vibrancy into your day.
Canopy of Tranquility Active Essence
Natural and serene, this fragrance creates a haven for peace and harmony.
Canopy of Tranquilityâ„¢ will comfort you through the caress of cotton-like softness infused with lemon blossoms, delicate rose petals and a warm blend of sandalwood and vanilla spices.
Let Canopy of Tranquilityâ„¢ provide the gentle relief found in a pure moment of stillness.
Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. On Saturday I decided to try out the lotion. I had taken a shower and figured it was a chance to a) see how the scents worked on me and b) not let my legs dry out. The body lotion, as I mention above, is called “Field of Happiness,” and they describe it as a light and crisp scent. It smelled crisp, alright. It literally smelled as if someone put mousse in their hair and promptly lit their head on fire. I didn’t use much – just enough to cover the lower portion of each leg – but it permeated the room so quickly that Jason and I both ended up with headaches and the cat hid from me after cautiously approaching and sniffing my hand. I’m being entirely serious. The light scent of blossoms that they say it smells like is harsh, smelling of chemicals and perfume. I actually ended up angry within minutes of applying it and sitting in a cloud of funk. This led to another shower and scrubbing lotion off with a bar of plain Dial soap.
Years ago – I’m thinking mid 90s – Gap put out a series of weird perfumes. There was Heaven, Grass, Dream and So Pink. The reason I’m mentioning them is because when I smell the “Canopy of Tranquility” hand cream, I immediately picture the little bottle of Heaven perfume I had. Not in a good way. I picture using it as a makeshift flamethrower.
Now… does the idea of a personalized (based on what you click in the survey) system of skin care products sound familiar? Neutrogena has skiniD, which is used for acne. Both Neutrogena and Upliv are subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson, the brand we all know and love. They’re not new to aromatherapy – one of their other subsidiaries, Aveeno, has a line of aromatherapy lotions that you can buy in any pharmacy or grocery store. So why make another? Aveeno can be purchased at CVS/pharmacy for $11.49 per 18 oz bottle. The Upliv products, when they are available for purchase (this is basically a Beta), will be sent according to your “system,” which means that you won’t be able to just call and order 1 small bottle of lotion for X amount of dollars because that’s all you want. It will work the same way Neutrogena’s skiniD works: you take the survey, they decide what you need, they mail it to you and send you a bill for roughly $60/month (this is a guesstimation based on what it cost me to try 1 month of skiniD and order the bare minimum of what they say you “need.”). They’ll send you more next month, whether you need it or not, and they’ll send you additional bottles as you request them, but will maintain the normal amount per month – so it’ll cost more each month you run out of something early.
Essentially this Upliv shit is a marketing ploy directed at people (women mostly – they specifically say it’s made for women, though men “can” use it) who listen to the media when it comes to what they “need.”
It’s a shame, really. I look through the “tools” that they use in the programs and some of them are valid for feeling better overall. None of it necessarily relates directly to being more relaxed, but there are time management ideas, dietary tools, organizational tips, and promotion of venting your stresses. All of these things, when done properly, do lead to an overall sense of wellbeing. If you don’t sleep well, eat shit food, manage your time poorly and hold everything in, no fucking wonder you’re stressed out. The tips they give to correct these problems can work. But then they go into Self Acupressure. I wish I was kidding. They want you to grab the part of your hand between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze until you feel “ow” and hold it until you feel “ahh.” This is not relaxing. It makes me want to say, “ow,” and let the fuck go of my own hand.
The only part of this exercise that would be at all relaxing is the follow-up of rubbing lotion onto your hands while taking deep breaths. But you could do that with any lotion! It doesn’t have to be burnt-hair-mousse scented to calm your nerves. It doesn’t have to smell like anything! The most relaxing part of my day is when I use a fragrance-free, oil based “belly balm” on my rapidly-growing midsection. It’s not because of any of the ingredients – it’s because I take a few minutes to think of nothing but gently applying this stuff to my own skin and it feels nice. It feels nice in the same way that rubbing your shoulders after spending time at your computer feels nice. No fragrance required.
All of these aromatherapy products don’t do anything but distract us for a split second. They’re directed at women because of our obsession with skin care combined with the busy lifestyle of the modern woman. It’s not a relaxation technique, it’s a whiff of bullshit. These companies won’t listen to letters or bitchy phonecalls. The only way to get our point across to them that we aren’t going to let them dictate what we need based on a biased generalization is to hit them where it hurts – in the wallet.