We are a society that focuses on outer appearances. Looking younger, thinner, stronger, fitter, ridding our bodies of cellulite, hiding our grey hair, filling in our wrinkles with botox and fillers. We are so hard on ourselves as women and I've learned this goes for men too. It's no wonder that as North Americans we spend billions on dieting tools, undereye concealer, wrinkle creams and cosmetic procedures. And I am not judging trust me. I am right with you on this trying to continually retain and regain my youthful appearance.
I am an avid yogi and recently visited Northern India on a yoga retreat. One of the biggest eye openers for me was the vast difference between Western and Eastern cultural ideals. In the West we are very focused on outer appearances and less so on our inner spirituality. In the East they are very focused on inner spirituality and less so on outer appearances.
I had another insightful moment that came to me a month and a half after I got home from my India trip. And that was when I really realized what made me so happy in India. It was NOT being on a diet. I didn't follow any meal plan. I ate when I was hungry. I ate what I wanted which included carbs (basmati rice and naan bread, hello!). I ate three huge meals each and every day. I went to India worrying about not getting enough food into my belly (because that is part of the disease of Orthorexia and the need to control your diet ~ more on this below) and that definitely wasn't the case. I forgot about my eating and food obsession and just enjoyed my India adventure.
I just recently started my Registered Yoga Teacher Certification. I originally wanted to undertake this challenge a few years ago as a means to get my body more physically fit. As another form of exercise to develop a strong core and be lean. That was about three years ago. The universe had a way of keeping me from that because that goal was extremely flawed and superficial. I wasn't ready for what being a certified yoga teacher really meant. Now that I am well underway I am understanding the true history, philosophy and meaning of yoga ~ a uniting of the mind and body ~ I realize that my mind and body are fragmented. That's what this obsessive eating disorder has done to me. I am now realizing that going to the gym is my way of working on my aesthetic, outer body. Going to yoga is working on my spiritual, inner body. It is my self-awareness. My consciousness. My guide to healing. My path to Santosha ~ finding contentment with what I have and to stop allowing my ego to push me into finding a false sense of happiness through what I have characterized as the ideal (i.e. being a certain weight, looking fit and firm, being wealthier, etc.).
So, what can the natural beauty industry do to try and promote a more positive body image and acceptance of our own holistic beauty both inside and out?
I believe the solution lies in what is called the Body Positivity Movement that goes against the Diet Culture that has permeated every level, age and gender of our western society.
Our new mantra needs to go like this:
- We all have and will get wrinkles. It's called life. Getting old happens. Will it be as graceful as we hope? That depends on our whole lifestyle and whether we practice self care for our body and mind, look after our skin as our largest organ (hint: wearing sunscreen and a hat) and not smoking, getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours a night), and finding mechanisms to deal with stress.
- Here's a tidbit for you: Did you know that being truly happy can be found by feeling like you are a part of a community or some bigger social cause. Whether that be a yoga community, a church community, a neighbourhood community, etc. The happiest towns/cities in the world boast a sense of community to boost their happiness levels. Their happiness does not come from wealth, material possessions, thinness, youthfulness, or status.
- We all (like 80% of women) have and/or will get cellulite. Again it's life. Our muscles will atrophy over time and we will develop fat deposits where we don't want them to protect our bones. It is very difficult to spot reduce certain areas of fat that develop over time. Keep working out and being physically mobile so that you are agile and heart strong, but stop stressing over lumps and bumps that are natures way of protecting our body.
- Same goes for grey hair. And hair in places that we have never had it before! I am in my mid-forties and my grey hairs started to sprout in my twenties. Genetics or stress? Either way they are mine and while I do colour them monthly I also know at some point I will let them shine through and just be natural.
- We need to not only accept these facts but we also should be embracing our own beauty no matter our size, our age, or our flaws. Nobody is perfect. We don't all come with an airbrush!
Since I became the Founder and Owner of a natural indie wellness brand, Clean Kiss Organics, I really got sucked more deeply into the whole "outer" beauty obsession with appearances. I don't want my brand to be focused on "beauty" but rather to be focused on wellness and health for all. As an industry we need to be teaching people to focus on the whole. Not just what is on the outside. This is a slippery slope that leads to mental health issues, eating disorders, and overall discontentment with life. Through my company I promote wellness for the body, face, hair and home ~ naturally, with gifts from mother earth herself.
If you are unfamiliar with the "Body Positivity" movement it is working hard to change deep rooted mindsets about our body ideals and to promote contentment in our own skin. I have recently started watching a lot of youtube videos, reading blog posts and podcasts to promote "body posi" attitudes. Two that I love are Christy Harrington and Bodyposipanda.
The Body Positivity movement is especially near and dear to me as I am recently very aware that I am challenged with Orthorexia nervosa. This is an eating disorder characterized by a need to eat healthy and control every bite of what I put in my body, obsessively, and being so completely caught up in the diet mentality that you feel like you're on a hamster wheel that never stops. I am trying to manage this eating disorder every day and know it is a process that won't be cured overnight. Every single day is a struggle. Read my other blog post on this topic here. Finding contentment in my body is my goal.
Now that you've read this blog, want to know more about Clean Kiss Organics?
We create 100% Natural and Organic, Canadian artisan handcrafted wellness products that are simple and pure for your body, face, hair and home. Our specialty is plant based premium skincare, all natural deodorant (that really does work!), and products to tame and manage naturally curly hair.
We are 100% Vegan, GMO free, Gluten Free (and free of all unnecessary garbage!) and Leaping Bunny Certified (meaning we never test on animals and neither do our suppliers). We also proudly give a portion of our sales to help homeless women and their children to get back on track with housing, education, and financial support.