Are we aiming for perfection in beauty?
Sometimes I fear when I write this blog that it seems like I'm aiming for perfection when I talk about aging and how to reduce wrinkles. I'm not.
The older I grow I see how difficult it is for us women to age in a society that is focused on perfection. It's hard, right? I don't want to let that pressure affect me, but it does. However, my aim with this blog is to focus on aging gracefully with Mother Nature's natural ingredients. Yes, I'm all about reducing wrinkles and wrinkle prevention...but doing it in a natural and healthy way, which I think is totally possible with a commitment to an effective skincare regimen.
However, as I was thinking about all of this (as I often do when I'm writing on the blog or developing our Free Clean Beauty Challenge), I came across a concept that I found enlightening.
Recently, my boyfriend and I was were watching a video on surfer Dave Rastovich, who was talking about the Japanese tradition, wabi-sabi, the art of imperfection. Basically the concept is that everything is ever-changing, imperfect, grows old and decays at some point. And that there is beauty in that.
This got me thinking about how I view the world. I love imperfection actually. I love underdogs and quirkiness. I love people who are characters. It's just been a hard road accepting imperfections in my physical self. My grandmother always adored the classically beautiful (and honestly I think she wanted a granddaughter that fit in that category), and I always felt inferior because I am not a classic beauty.
I'm sure her influence on me has had some impact on my becoming interested with the topic of beauty and aging in the first place. The funny thing is, I think switching over to a natural beauty lifestyle was a rebellion against the type of beauty that I felt I had to live up to in my youth.
I never felt like I fit in physically when I was younger. I was kind of an awkward kid, and then adolescence and my teenage years were not kind to me at all. Acne, braces, terribly bushy unshaped eyebrows and for some reason I decided to get my super straight hair permed at age 14. A perm! Ugh. By the way, this was 1994 and perms were definitely out by then. I guess you could say I was behind the times for the first 20 years of my life, ha.
None of this was helped by the fact that my grandmother was extremely critical of me when it came to my looks among other things. And that wasn't helped by the fact that she was a physically beautiful 5'9 statuesque, blonde and blue-eyed woman. Yup, I looked nothing like her. And it's not that I wanted to look like her per se, but I guess deep down I wanted to live up to her expectations of what I should look like.
Because of her I had these expectations of myself that now I realize I could never live up to. I think deep down it was embedded into my consciousness that I should look a certain way. And I think I spent most of my youth trying to do that... very unsuccessfully.
Natural Beauty, Self Esteem and Aging Gracefully
By the time I reached my late 20s I was making the switch to a more natural skincare routine and this had a huge effect on my self-esteem. I began to value my natural looks instead of trying to look like someone I wasn't.
It's been a long road for my self-esteem. Luckily, there have always been other things in my life that have given me joy and self worth like writing, art and creativity. I never did solely base my worth on my looks, although as I got into my teens and 20s, the more important that became to me. And the more hard on myself and unhappy I was.
Now I can look back and realize what a major impact my grandmother had on me. These days, I can still catch myself being critical of my looks as I grow older (as I'm sure most of us do). I'm much more comfortable in my skin now than I have ever been, but of course, there are those moments. We all have them.
Now that I'm in my late 30s I'm seeing how hard aging can be on our psyche especially as women, and especially in today's society when there's such a focus on youth. However, I don't want it to be this way for me or my readers.
With this blog, I have to catch myself sometimes because I tend to focus on writing about staying "youthful" when really I mean staying young at heart while aging gracefully.
I don't want to turn anyone else into someone who feels like they have to live up to expectations that they can't, which is what my grandmother did to me. Even if it was unintentional. We have enough of that in our society as it is.
Instead I want to focus on aging gracefully and that might mean something different for everyone. To me, aging gracefully is staying true to my spirit and not limiting myself because of my age.
At this time, I feel like I'm entering a new phase of my life. I don't want to make myself crazy with agonizing over looking young or growing old. I hate feeling like that. At the same time, I want to take the best care of myself that I can so that I feel good both in and out.
Basically, I think I want to focus on these three concepts:
Wabi-sabi First, I really like the concept of wabi-sabi, because let's face it, none of us are getting out of this life alive. We will all grow old at some point, no matter how much we try to fight it. I want to love and accept my older self. And I love the idea of aging gracefully with imperfections that come along the way. Because that's life my friends! There's no way around it.
Gratitude Second, I know it sounds cliche these days, but practicing gratitude is a huge influence on our consciousness. I have SO much to be thankful for that sometimes I forget about. And despite feeling resentment towards my grandmother for years because of her criticalness towards me, I realize that I have things really, really good in this life. I'm very lucky in so many ways compared to what some people have to go through.
Staying Young at Heart Third, I do think it's important to be young at heart while you're growing older. I don't want to agonize over growing old. I don't want to give up on certain things if I don't want to because I'm a certain age. I believe being young at heart will keep you feeling good and engaged in this life. If you've lost that feeling, I say try to get ahold of that feeling again. Life should be exhilarating.
Coming full circle, this blog post and this blog in general is really about loving your natural self, imperfections and all. Hands down, switching to a natural skincare routine has helped me with the self-esteem issues I've had over the years probably more than anything else. I accepted myself and had more confidence, and really just left a lot of those old insecurities behind.
If you're feeling lost in this way, I recommend looking into these concepts and traditions in addition to signing up for our Free 21-Day Clean Beauty Challenge that starts January 1st. Besides helping you transition to a toxic-free and clean beauty routine, this empowering program will show you how to take your beauty into your own hands.