February 5 is the National Wear Red Day when the bold colors of our outfits are supposed to remind us to take better care of our heart. It is not about love (not until Valentine’s Day) – it is about wellness and fitness and healthy lifestyle.
There are two approaches to trying to get the attention of the folks about wellness: the collectivistic and the individualistic.
The first one tries to put the people in the context of the big society. We heard a lot of it recently during the Health Care Debate in America. Ideas like: we all have to pay for those obese people and let’s incentivize healthy behavior for the common good of the society. While well intentioned this way of forcing the popular opinion seems too intrusive and in America it often produces a backlash of the freedom loving folks. After all if we don’t feel free to eat a doughnut we don’t feel free at all. Americans don’t like Government bureaucrats to tell them how to live. It is deep into the culture and it is a good thing.
The collectivism way of thinking that views a person as a cell of the bigger organism of the society is typical for the socialist countries. The old Soviet poster you see here is a part of 70 years long campaign that is still running in Russia. It is called: “Be Ready for Labor and Defense”. It is not about unions and lawyers. The idea is that people should stay fit and exercise regularly so they can be able to contribute to the society with work and military service. The most prominent activists of the movement even get a medal after completing series of normative tests. The population is divided in age groups. The oldest are men 40-60 and women 35–55 years of age and according to the program they should exercise just for Cheerfulness (not much is expected of this group). It is the total opposite of the American view of this age segment.
Common! 35-year-old woman in America is not even considered a cougar and 40-year man is in the rise of his productive life.
The individualism approach in America is illustrated by the HHS campaigns like The Heart Truth, The Red Dress, and Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear. They try to bring attention of the people to problems that may affect their own life. It is about your health, your life and your choice how to deal with it. It is a trademarked campaign that does not give you a medal, but encourages you to give the wellness a thought. It doesn’t show you a treadmill, but instead invites you with a red silky dress, lipstick and a pretty pin to think about yourself and your heart.
The American way lets you be selfish and seek the healthy lifestyle for yourself. The society will sure benefit, but it is not the thing that will drive your lifestyle. Instead of being forced into it for the common good Americans are invited to choose the wellness for their own good.
And let’s hope more people will make the right choice.