Beauty: More than skin deep

                                                    

We’ve all heard the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but how often has anyone stopped to think of what that actually means.

As People Magazine announced that the well-spoken and extremely talented (not to mention beautiful) Lupita Nyong’o, winner of Best Actress at the Oscars for 12-years of Slave, would be “crowned” the cover girl for their “Most Beautiful Person” issue, it also came out that Lupita would not only be the third black woman to ever grace the cover, but also the first dark-skinned woman. This is significant for Lupita herself because she has said she spent much of her childhood being ashamed of the colour of her skin. And the media hasn’t helped this my digitally editing photos to lighten people’s skin, and also add studio lighting for the same effect.

It is wonderful to see Lupita on the cover, proud and confident, but it still makes me wonder why we still put so much emphasis on beauty. We know People does it to sell magazines, but true beauty, like in Lupita’s case goes way beyond skin deep.

Beauty fades, it is a superficial part of someone’s identity that doesn’t do much to describe who they are. Like, did you know that Lupita is a documentary film director and producer? Has a masters from the Yale School of Drama? Directed a music video that was nominated for the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards?

All that says a lot more about a person than “beautiful.”

Magazines and the media have long been held to blame for creating these images that young people believe they are supposed to achieve. It doesn’t help that they celebrate looks over things like charity, humour and intelligence. What if next year People introduced an “Innovator of the Year” cover? Or, “Most Inspiring Writer”?

The true gifts we offer to the world, the path we take to make our communities better in some little way often go unrecognized and unappreciated. Sometimes it seems like to get noticed, compromises have to be made, but it should be that way? Women shouldn’t have to feed into the “sex sells” idea to get her ideas out. And media should dumb down content to appeal to the stereotypes that men are only interested in breasts, sports and beer.

Lupita should be celebrated, but not just for the beauty the camera captures, but for the beauty we all possess in one way or another, in our souls and personalities.

You are what you eat, and wear

                                           

Cleanses, juicing, the Paleo diet, super foods, chia seeds, it’s enough to make your head spin. How can anyone keep up with all the ebbs and flows of what is new and healthy? It seems like every week there is a new article or celebrity telling us about a new food we should be eating to stay healthy, or a different way to consume it. But how often do we think of the affects of what we put on our bodies? Just like how the foods we eat can impact how our skin looks, the same goes for what we put on our skin.

Just like with what we eat, it only makes sense to indulge. Trying to give up the foods we love is often a waste of time, because we’ll end up caving eventually. Once in a while, why not have a delicious gin and tonic, or pizza. But when I indulge, I try to do it with ingredients I know come from a good source, local distilled gin from Victoria Spirits, or lovely organic tomatoes in my pizza sauce, and the same applies to how we should treat our skin.

The funny thing about what we use in our soaps, creams and lip balms, is they are used in a lot of food products, and have beneficial qualities for our skin.

At this point everyone has olive oil on their counter top and uses it for everything from sautéing vegetables to salad dressings, and marinades, but it is also a popular ingredient in products like soaps and creams because of it’s moisturizing qualities, and replenishes and protects the skins moisture barrier.

For people with sensitive skin, what is in their soap and creams is important to consider. Like with olive oil, there are other natural products you can find in your kitchen cupboards even plain, old oatmeal. Now I’m not saying to plunge head first into your morning bowl of oatmeal, but products that use it provide a gentle exfoliant, and is a multi-purpose skin care aid to relieve dryness.

Even though we all look for soaps and creams that have positive affects on our skin, we also pick them for their fragrances. But we can pick products that are made with essential oils that give them a great smell, and have benefits.

                                                  

Sweet orange smells down right delicious, but it is also a great addition to bath products because of its acid content which helps gently dissolve grease and dirt build-up. It can also be beneficial for soothing dry irritated skin.

If you’re not into those citrusy smells, there are benefits in other essential oils that have more of a rich, woody, earthy scent, like Sandalwood, and some people think it has some aphrodisiac qualities. Sandalwood has long been used for dry skin irritations, itching and sensitivity.

The unknowns we find on the labels of what’s in our bathroom cabinets has led many people to look for some of the ingredients I’ve mentioned because of their tried and tested benefits, and because many of the ingredients we cook with are good for our skin, there are tons of recipes for face masks, scrubs and even DIY lip balms.

 

If you feel adventurous, try this recipe from Whole Living for DIY Oatmeal-Lavender Face Scrub:

1 cup ground oatmeal

½ cup dry lavender flowers

½ cup powdered milk (either whole or nonfat)

2 tsp cornmeal

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, massage into damp skin, rinse with warm water. (Scrub will keep for six months.)