In the age of selfies, appearance is paramount and every moment of our lives is not only captured, but shared. Photo editing apps allow us to smooth away wrinkles and spots, and color correct skin tone. YouTube make-up video tutorials are tirelessly studied, Instagram popularity is gauged by envy, and Facebook articles remind us of all the ways we can (and should) look and feel better. In the bombardment of vanity, I say, “Screw that, love yourself unconditionally and celebrate your contribution to the world!” It is easier said than done of course, unconditional love is difficult to find when we have to constantly face relentless societal pressure on appearances.
An ex-friend’s message in my Middle School yearbook says it all. Acne was a constant struggle in my early adolescent years.
There were many periods in my life when appearance crippled my self-confidence. When I gained weight, my mind was heavy with guilt and blame. When I had bouts of acne, I carried in my heart a layer of self-loathing and shame. Still now, a yearning for a clear youthful complexion, a flat tummy, larger breasts, and a rounder bottom permeates my consciousness. The desires are muted to a very low decibel these days as I recognize that they are the product of societal imposition of beauty standards. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that I am conditioned, and to a degree, I accept my insecurities as part of my fabric.
Beauty to me was a model in a magazine spread, a red-carpet gown, a singer in a music video. Everyday, I lived my life in pursuit of these presentations, more so in my mind than in actual application of make-up or pairing of fashionable outfits.
I finally turned a corner when I became a mother. It was simple. My hopes for my daughter revolve around the experiences she’ll have, the knowledge she’ll gain, the contributions she’ll make to better the world; how she looks while living any part of her life makes no difference whatsoever. So if this was my sentiment for her, it was a paradox that I cared so much for my own appearance.
Beauty to me now is a counselor for troubled youth, a doctor/nurse in a conflict zone, an advocate for social justice, an organic farmer, a sculptor, a piano player, a biomedical engineer, or a president of a democracy. Beauty to me now is my passion for health & sustainability, my craft of botanical personal care products that facilitate beauty empowerment. Beauty is the example that I set for my daughter. Beauty is maximizing the potential of intellect for the greater good.
Yes, appearance is still an influence on my mood and mindset; I can acknowledge and accept this reality, but simultaneously demote its importance. I wear my pimple scars, freckles and sunspots, wrinkles and smile lines without shame, I’ll paint my face for amusement or presentation when I please but not to hide who I am. And yes, I formulate products to allay pimples, fade scars, protect from the sun, and boost skin elasticity, offering people an avenue for self-care, self-love, and connection with plant magic that nature provides.
Whatever it is you do, if you do it with passion and love, true beauty radiates. So go ahead and love yourself, you are beautiful!!!
P.S. We don’t have to fly to the moon, literally, to be beautiful. Any kindness, compassion, and positivity offered contributes to the beauty of our planet. The more you give, the more beautiful the world becomes.
On my birthday this year, I went on a solo sunrise wildflower hike, I felt beautiful, I felt magical.