Portrait of a woman standing outdoors wearing nail polish and red lipstick

A quick Google search of “high maintenance” will lead to countless articles using it as a pejorative term, often associated with women who are supposedly challenging, needy, and self-absorbed. However, as we collectively acquire a better understanding and appreciation for self-care and self-love, the term loses its previously derogatory meaning. Are you a high-maintenance girl? You’re not alone. Read more to find out why more and more women are embracing their high standards and applying them to different aspects of their lives.

“High Maintenance” Is All About Perspective

No, wearing a hat and using sunscreen to avoid sun damage is not high-maintenance.

Different types of people exist in this world. A person who invented the concept of being high-maintenance may have had very basic needs. While nothing wrong with either, the term unfairly labels another for simply having more specific requirements and being more upfront about them.

Tracing the origins of the concept is difficult. However, according to the Random House Dictionary of American Slang, the term made mainstream pop culture through the rom-com When Harry Met Sally. In one scene, Harry accuses Sally of being the worst kind of high maintenance — the kind who thinks she’s not. Although he did not intend it as an insult, it registers that way, especially when Harry points out that the woman in Casablanca is low maintenance. He somehow implies that there was something wrong with Sally. 

The term used to sow seeds of insecurity and pit women against women, but it’s become more accepted today as a mere description that’s neither good nor bad. Besides, it’s all relative. You’re a high-maintenance girl? Sure, to somebody. But there will always be someone who will have higher standards, and you will seem pretty low-maintenance to them.

PR practitioner and volunteer Romina Nanagas puts it into perspective: “To me, I'm pretty chill but to others maybe not. Could I rough it? Yes. Will I like it? No. Do I need to stay in a 5-star hotel? Heck no. Should the bathroom be nicer than my own? Ah, yes, please.” She adds, “When I do my advocacies, I am somehow able to rough it in the mountains. But I do it with a full face of sunblock (which I will gladly share to those who won’t bring their own), and a nice outfit, without a doubt.”

It Just Means You Have a Different Lifestyle

Not better, not worse, just different. Being high maintenance can apply to different aspects of a person’s lifestyle. Almost instinctively, most people associate it with beauty and the amount of time and effort a woman invests in her appearance. However, you can have high standards for many other things — not just skin care. 

Marketing manager, jewelry enthusiast, and self-described high-maintenance girl Coco Maceren’s version of being high maintenance is being picky with everything that has to do with her dogs. “I always make sure that my dogs eat only a super-specific and particular brand of dog food and nothing else. I guess I’m that way with some choices in my life, too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know when to stop. I do try my best to be mindful.”

She adds, “I realize that there is a little bit of privilege that comes into play, but I do think if you’re high maintenance, you should just own it. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s about knowing what you want and what you believe you and the people close to you deserve.” How’s that for self-love?

Project manager Maxine Lee echoes this sentiment. “I work really hard to be financially independent because when I want something, I buy it, so I would say I’m financially high maintenance. I don’t see this as something to be ashamed of because I always pay for my own stuff. Other people don’t see it as a flaw either because they sometimes also benefit from me having these things. As long as you can afford it, why not?”

It’s All About Priorities

It’s all about insisting on the things you value and not settling for less.

High-maintenance girl Regine Lao admits that over the past couple of years, she’s had to change her ways. Not because it’s frowned upon by society, but because she believed it was necessary for her circumstances and lifestyle. She used to be very picky about skin care and fashion, but her priorities have since changed. 

“I am always willing to shell out lots of money on the way I look, from skin treatments to clothes. My beauty habits have mellowed because of the pandemic. My focus now is more on mental wellness,” she says. “Before the pandemic started, I always made sure to visit skin clinics for facials and massage sessions every two weeks. I also followed a Korean 10-step beauty routine every night. My previous group of friends found my self-care habits ‘high maintenance’ in a negative way — they’re not my friends anymore. My current group of friends is more supportive.”

Her value for self-care is not uncommon — these routines and mini-indulgences are a lifeline for many women. The International Self-Care Foundation says self-care empowers women with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to proactively maintain their health. Some will see certain self-care practices as high maintenance, but if it keeps you happy, motivated, and feeling good in these tough times, what does it matter? 

Regine sums it up nicely: “Being a high-maintenance girl does not mean that you’re being maarte. For me, it means that you value yourself and you try your best to take care of yourself in your own way, whether it’s for physical or mental reasons. You are high-maintenance because you love yourself.”

“High Maintenance” Is Just Maintenance!

What’s the appropriate level of maintenance and self-care, anyway? No one else can determine and define that but you. Some people may see it as excessive or insufficient, but that’s okay as long as it’s enough for you. If you’re thinking of mixing up your “maintenance” routine, here are some ideas:

Enhance your self-care routine by adding a little something extra. Yes, cleanse-tone-moisturize is an acceptable skincare regimen and it works for some people, but if you want to pamper yourself, add POND’S Age Miracle Ultimate Youth Essence to your nighttime routine. It contains hyaluronic acid for comfort and deep hydration, plus mineral-rich red algae that make skin supple and smooth. 

For your hair, use Cream Silk Triple Keratin Rescue Ultimate Hair Fall Defiance Treatment Shot once a week. This three-in-one solution is like a salon treatment in a tube, containing ingredients that strengthen hair, tame frizz, and restore your locks from extreme dullness.

Want to pamper your pits? Use a serum! Dove Intensive Renew Deodorant Dry Serum Collagen + Vitamin B3 comes in a silky, dry serum formula with 48-hour protection from odor. It contains collagen and Vitamin B3 to renew your skin and brighten dark spots on your underarms.

What’s a high-maintenance girl? She's a woman who knows what she wants and needs, and loves herself enough to go for them. If you are one, know that you’re not alone — there are others out there who are rooting for you.