The great lengths that many of my beautiful, vibrant friends take to hold back the sands of time constantly amaze me. I myself am not completely immune as I lean in closer to the mirror every week to pluck the vagrant white whisker on my chin, fretting about how I can even find it amongst the wrinkles there. Watching our sons and daughters on Facebook only deepens the furrows on my brow.
I rather prided myself on every gray hair on my head (except poking out of that mole) as I’ve earned each and every one of them. I assure myself, my self-confidence is richer than any color out of a box. Still, it is fun once in a while for me to throw some hot pink or henna on it occasionally, just to complement my wardrobe.
Having two sons, they, too, are proud of every gray hair they gave me, don’t care and — being male — don’t have the same standards to live up to. (Why is it that men can have beer bellies but expect women to be lithe? But, I digress )
If there was one lesson I’d have given to a daughter, it would be to take pride in your appearance but be comfortable in your healthy, well-nourished skin with the “happy-to-be-me” engine purring inside. As the western world has become more “civilized” we have started smothering ourselves with ridiculous standards and, therefore, an ever-increasing array of chemicals.
Case in point: shampoo. Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate. Cocoamidopropyl betaine. Ethyl hexyl glycerin. These are in a “natural” shampoo! While relatively harmless if that is all you are putting on your hair or body, the listed ingredients may not pose too much harm other than skin and eye irritation.
However, add conditioner, some packaged body wash, toner, eye makeup, deodorant, hair gel and you’ve got quite the toxic stew brewing. All in the name of “beauty and style.” Check out the following sites for more on that subject: The Environmental Working group (www.ewg.org/skindeep/) and Dr. Mercola (mercola.com and mercola.org).
I’ve an old acquaintance from here in Cambria who for years has done “touch-ups” on fashion photography.
His comments long ago, and many reports I’ve heard since, have highlighted the unrealistic images shoved on young women and men. Assure your daughters and sons that if they are eating a healthy diet, move often and work on keeping a positive outlook, they don’t have to worry about fitting into size 0 jeans or looking like they can pump 350 pounds.
The point is, what is it we are really trying to portray in ourselves? If you look at yourself honestly, what expectations are you putting on your children? If you are honest about your behaviors, your needs, your perceptions and your desires, you may discover how much you haven’t been thinking for yourself all along, haven’t been determining who and what you are after all and are really the product of society rather than your own free will.
Be mindful of why your children want to dress the way they do, if you should let them use makeup, if you are hyping “manliness,” if you’re allowing them to feel, express, be who they are — or are you trying to fit them in the popular mold? Just a thought.
By the way, after three weeks of going “poo-less” (no shampoo — everything else is fine, thank you), I see no benefit to using store-bought chemicals anymore.