Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lady Guard

I've talked a little bit about the ladies of Japan before and just what it entails to be a lady in this fair city. There are a veritable host of products with the word "lady" in the title aimed at us and just waiting to be picked up from a drugstore shelf by a manicured and bejewelled hand. Today I'm going to introduce you to Lady Guard, a new anti-pee product from Kowa. These pills are 9mm in diameter (the website is very clear about the size so we know they will fit down our lady-sized throats) and when taken just three times a day you won't have to use the bathroom so frequently! Isn't this something we all worry about? According to Kowa's "study" of over 1000 ladies, around 60% reported having to go upwards of 8 times a day and more than once in the middle of the night. Kowa's pretty pink website tells us we don't have to worry about this kind of thing alone any more. Well thank god for that! Before I go any further however, I would like to say that I am not making fun of people who actually have health issues when it comes to this kind of thing but the masses of people here who blow everything out of proportion.

I think it can be said that Japanese women are built differently in some respects but if most of the women who are worried about going to the bathroom so often are doing so because of stress or some other ailment, wouldn't it be better to try and treat that first rather than running to the drugstore for this over-counter-drug? I can't see how self-diagnosis and then a continued course of pee-suppressing pills is going to be good for one's overall health. I will be the first to say that women in North America are a constant advertising target and are told everyday that a slew of products will improve them or their quality of life in some way. But the kind of things advertised here makes me think Japan is going through a period not unlike the US 50s or 60s when lots of strange diet fads and health products came out that we would laugh at today. Which is exactly what I do, I laugh at these anti-pee pills, at stockings that claim to burn calories and at plastic toggles that are supposed to make your nose thinner while you sleep. Why is Japan so behind in this aspect or are they simply media unaware?

Kowa's web site tries to appeal to more women than actually need these pink pills by giving four examples of potential pill-poppers.

1. You're on vacation but can't enjoy it because you have to go to the bathroom: "I should have gotten an aisle seat". Not only that but you wouldn't want to inconvenience your travelling companion by having to find a bathroom, oh no you wouldn't.

2. You like going to the movies but always have to sit in a seat close to the bathroom: "I can't hold it until the last scene!"

3. You always go to the bathroom before meetings at work but you still wind up having to go halfway through. You can't really get up and go in the middle so you end up losing your concentration.

4. You get irritable when you have to work for long hours (retail etc.) without being able to go to the bathroom. Your stress builds because of this and you end up making careless mistakes at work as a result.

I always have to go to the bathroom at the movies so I either accept it and go or I try to drink less throughout it. Maybe I should be considering this wonder drug?! The website obviously has a small-print disclaimer on the use of these pills and who should really be using them but this problem is paraded in front of us a "woman's problem". This makes me wonder whether women who do in fact have health issues will be helped by this, or whether women in Japan will grow even more self-conscious about what is a natural bodily function being slammed as inconvenient and inherently a problem unique to ladies.


Sarah said...

I've always felt that many Japanese people, men and women, have this major hangup with anything to do with being human. From the deathly aversion to body hair and odour to things like nibbling secretly on meal replacements such as Calorie Mate or Weider-In Jelly instead of just stopping to get a bite to eat; the prohibitive silence on trains; the obsession with being as thin and wrinkle/bulge-free as possible (I knew a girl who would constantly fret if she noticed the slightest bit of niku projecting up over the top of her bra beneath her shoulder blades); the pit pads to protect shirts from dainty little sweat marks; the "mizu nashi!" Stoppa to prevent/postpone diarrhea; it feels like this is a country full of metropolitan mannequins sometimes.

On the other hand, we have things like men and women of all ages passed out cold drunk on trains and in bushes, the (relatively) open nature of sexuality as seen on conbini shelves, train posters, plastered on signboards, etc., and the disgustingly thick sentimentality that plagues TV dramas, books and manga. Is there no balance? Is that balance?!

Lisa said...

There is a prescription drug in the US called Detrol and it is designed to help with overactive bladders.

Lady Guard sounds like a convenience product, though. My elimination is not really something I'd want to mess with... what about kidney problems?!

Maybe for running marathons, though!

jo said...

well, i can't imagine the "oto hime" showing up in the men's restroom...

i always laugh (to myself of course) when someone at work comes in and i'm already peeing without using it, and they turn it on in their neighboring stall. sometimes i just want to yell, "we all pee folks, we all pee!!" ha.

Kelley Dawne said...

I have a student like that who can't make it through a 40 minute class without rushing off to the bathroom at the end. This isn't because of her being a lady, or because of health issues. It's because she constantly drinks tea between the 10 minutes before class she waits, right through to the end of class.
I think Japanese people just never stop drinking tea or coffee here. ALL my students are constantly drinking something. THAT'S the problem!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Sarah-you hit the nail on the head, I really enjoyed reading your comments. I'm not all for letting it all hang out but the Japanese have tried to control and hide this stuff to the furthest extent that maybe the by-product of all that is showing up in this behaviour that seems counteractive to what they are trying to hide in the first place. That supressed bit has to come out eventually.

jo- thanks for commenting. Whenever I walk in the bathroom at work and there is only one person in the stall, there is always this frantic moment where they quickly turn on the oto hime so I can't *possibly* guess what they might be doing in there!