Actor Sushmita Sen took to her Instagram account to reveal that she had suffered a heart attack a couple of days ago and undergone angioplasty. Celebrities have better access to health care, nutrition, health, and lifestyle, yet why do even they get hit with major health issues?
It is assumed that men are comparatively more prone to heart diseases, diabetes, stroke, etc., but women too are at risk of falling ill given that more women are in the workforce today, and yet that doesn’t exempt many of us from taking care of the family. Work-life balance is primarily a women’s issue because regardless of whether we pursue a career or not, we are expected to take care of the household.
Many of us see our fathers take off and rest when they get sick, but our mothers don’t, even if they are having a painful period, a headache, a high temperature, or body pain. Prioritising our health and resting are luxuries that women can’t afford in the system we live in. We are either guilt-tripped by others or our conscience if we ever prioritise ourselves because that’s what we’ve been fed in a patriarchal society.
Women Prioritising Their Health
Even today, regardless of how competent, talented, and educated we are, we have to work twice as hard to prove our efficiency. In the quest of proving that we are on par with our male counterparts and trying to find a work-life balance, we end up neglecting our health. A 2021 survey by Emcure pharmaceutical company on working women revealed that 90% of them face a conflict of interest in managing work, life and health responsibilities.
Women play multiple roles: daughter, wife, mother, and working professional, meaning that we push ourselves to fulfil all these responsibilities within 24 hours every day. Truth be told, society squeezes the life out of women by glorifying us as “superwomen.” We are told from a young age that as women, we have it in us to take care of others—women who are otherwise perceived as weak by patriarchy become epitomes of strength when people want to drain us with work.
This glorification is toxic. Women are not superhumans who can do it all. Trying to take care of everything except themselves, women often push themselves to the edge until one day it all just crumbles into tiny little pieces. A lot of us skip breakfast, don’t eat on time, or are sleep-deprived, but we just keep going. The physical strain, unhealthy lifestyle, and emotional stress all pile up, leading to auto-immune diseases, infertility, menstrual issues, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, etc. After all, we are human beings with saturation points too. How can we forget that we need to reboot often to function effectively?
What women eat and do today determines our future health. We visit the hospital only when things go out of our hands and many of us don’t even know exactly when certain symptoms began because we fail to pay attention. We must take care of our health during adolescence and our 20s so that we can prevent health issues in later years. It is not an understatement to say that women light themselves on fire to keep others warm. But when are we going to realise that to be efficient at work and take care of our family, we need to be healthy?
A simple Google search would give us a pretty decent diet chart, but how do we follow it amidst our hectic schedules? An easy way would be to cook extra of the same nutritious meal that we cook for our children. We need to start taking our fair share of food off the table and stop being the last ones to eat leftovers. Little things that we could do to ensure that we are physically active include engaging in physical activities with our kids, taking the stairs instead of elevators, and doing yoga or home workouts around toddlers, which can be enjoyable for them too.
How many of us are aware let alone getting a gynaecological check-up and master health check-up done once a year? Can we just pause, breathe, take care of ourselves, and normalise women prioritising their health for the future generation? It’s time we as women, irrespective of our age groups, start prioritising our preventive health check-ups and look out for ourselves because of we won’t, then who will?
Suggested reading: Why Being Female And Political Intersects When We Talk About Healthcare