Though the Montreal Women’s Show, held at the Palais de Congres April 4-6, was an event geared towards women, it did beg the question, “What kind of women?”
The exposition floor was a flurry with exhibitors hawking just about every variety of cosmetic, cosmetic process, feminine-hygiene product, cleaning product, diet product and health-food product known to woman along with toys, financial services and a few professional organizations. One would possibly even think that this show might be ideal…for the kind of girl whose priority in life is pleasing her husband and family.
Its website boasted that the show “offers a fantastic day out with girlfriends that you can’t find anywhere else! With everything from food and wine sampling to fashion and beauty; there will be celebrity guest speakers, fashion shows, free makeovers, tips for staying healthy, home decor and entertaining ideas, travel options plus career advice and over 300 exhibitors!”
The show was packed with gaggles of gals winding through the exhibition aisles toting bags packed with brand-new wares from the show but the show itself offered very little in terms of intellectual or even spiritual fulfillment. Dentists’ chairs lined the aisles as women lay back in them, wearing protective goggles with neon black lighting over their heads to bleach their teeth.
An abundance of chiropractors were also there, pointing out bad posture and suggesting their services. While some women received massages, had their hair straightened, learned about how to get cleaner laundry and new organic health foods and supplements, the vast majority of products being pushed on the ladies were creams, scrubs, washes and enough makeup to keep a drag queen show running for an eternity. Save for one kiosk that was selling French-only books on angels, the show was seemingly devoid of actual books for sale.
At the heart of the showroom floor was its crowning glory, a large booth set up by Ethere Spa Medico-Dentaire featured a doctor injecting Restylane into women’s faces to reverse the devastating effects of aging, so it would seem.
According to Dr. Kevin Khue Tu, who was injecting this gel into the faces of some of the show’s “lucky” patrons, “Restylane is a hyaluronic acid. It’s a product that already exists in your system. There is a lot of it already under your skin and you can also find a lot of this product is in your bones. This product is used to give your skin more elasticity and to lubricate your articulation. The ideal age for this product is between 35 and 55 but there are always exceptions to the rule – I have given it to an 86-year-old woman.”
Harley Davidson was also on-site trying to capitalize on its newest market: women. Chantal Cournoyer of Harley Davidson Montreal stated, “We did a (market) test in Toronto and it worked so well that we decided to come here to present the motorcycles to women. These days, on the market, 14% of motorcycle sales are to women.”
At one tiny table in the middle of the show room, the event’s only lobby group could be found, Le Commission de l’equite salariale, who exist for the sole purpose of ensuring pay equity between men and women in Quebec businesses with 10 or more employees. Whereas the booth was ultimately relevant to the women’s show, “Joanne,” who was staffing the booth but would not give her last name, roared in laughter when I mentioned how women in this country are essentially “screwed,” since the Conservative government killed the pay equity act back in 2006. “Yes, we are,” she said.
When it came to careers and finances, just about every credit card and financial services company in the country was on hand to attract new customers. There were also a handful of schools there to promote their programs, particularly in fashion and design. The Canadian military also had a booth there trying to get new recruits. Though the soldiers would not grant us an interview, they seemed strangely out of place amongst all of the frills, fragrances, creams and exercise equipment.
For those seeking to improve their inner as well as their outer selves, there were a number of life coaches and personal organizers on hand to help. Unfortunately most of that “coaching” centered around being attractive like the lawofattractionstuff.com table whose saleswoman boasted, “What we do is sell tools that help put the law of attraction into action on a daily basis.”
In the end, the show that was designed to be a “fun day for the ladies” might not have been enjoyable for every woman. In Canada, women fuel a multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry along with an equally cash-fuelled cosmetic-surgery market. Just as we are usually the household member in charge of cooking and cleaning, we are also more concerned with the health of our families. This is not to say that there isn’t a general interest amongst women in all of the above-mentioned industries or products, but at the same time, we do deserve a little more credit.