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Beauty and Perfectionism

We have heard about the dangers of perfectionism and know it can lead to frustration or even worse. We know it’s unattainable. But how do we find a balance between rejecting the destructive patterns of perfectionism and embracing positive self-improvement – especially in the area of beauty?

Women are constantly being shown how to look BETTER. The beauty industry did not get to be worth billions of dollars by not marketing their latest and greatest products to women every single day. Better skin, better hair, better nails! Be more youthful and beautiful! Firmer and sexier too! Not to mention, the women on the advertisements look utterly flawless, thanks to the magic of Photoshop.

We see and hear these messages so often, and we start to internalize them: I need to be better. Desiring improvement is one of the best things we can do as human beings, but, at the same time, this emphasis on “better” can easily become a dangerous slippery slope that leads straight to perfectionism.

What to do?

The lovely Brené Brown, Ted Talk sensation, scholar, and research professor behind popular books such as Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, has a lot to say on this matter in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. First she explains what perfectionism actually is:

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

If I look perfect…I can avoid…the painful feelings of shame. That’s where it all stems from: we fear painful feelings, so we grasp at whatever we can to avoid them. We don’t want to feel the shame of other people thinking we aren’t beautiful or judging our outward appearance. We don’t want to feel the shame of negative self-talk in our own heads. We yearn for acceptance and sometimes convince ourselves if we look perfect, it will come.

But here’s the truth for us all: we have no choice but failure with this pursuit of outward perfection. You will never look in the mirror and see a perfect image staring back. We’re human; all humans are flawed. The shame we feel through beauty comparison (She has fewer wrinkles, a tighter tummy, better bone structure, thicker hair, etc.) is deadly to our mind and bodies. We begin hating our imperfections, hating ourselves.

We cannot pursue beauty perfection; it’s impossible and harmful. But that does not mean we cannot aim for positive improvements.

Brené also writes, “Healthy striving is self-focused: "How can I improve?" Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think?”

This concept of healthy striving is a much more positive way for women to embrace the beauty industry and improve their skin/hair/bodies. Instead of being motivated by avoiding shame and pursuing acceptance, we can look at the beauty industry as a method of self-care.

We have one body to use, and we need to care for it. We can keep it healthy and strive to improve it. These are lovely ambitions for every woman. In fact, they are acts of SELF-CARE. Skincare, makeup, hair care, and other beauty products are means in which we can make our own bodies a priority.

We can say: I am WORTH having youthful, radiant skin; strong, smooth hair; and healthy, manicured nails. I am WORTHY of genuine care.

This outlook comes from a place of worthiness, not a place of shame. Healthy improvement is driven by doing what’s best for you, not what others “expect” of you.

It would be nice to utilize the offerings of the beauty industry to improve ourselves and create a happy, healthy, cared-for body. Not to turn them into a feeding frenzy for a perfectionism addiction.

 

                     

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10 Quotes on Beauty and Kindness

There is a dangerous something that sparks in women from a very early age: we so often compete with other women. It goes back to an archaic necessity to find a man for survival. We had to be the prettiest, the sexiest, and the most capable of raising children. It was a fight. Though we live in a new age where a woman can be independent and wait to choose a partner whenever she is ready, we haven’t quite lost the competitive edge. And so often it is about the way we look.

What if we threw that all aside? What if kindness was not only an important part of our daily lives, but actually the place where our beauty stemmed from? While lipstick, blush, and the perfect cut and color can be fabulous and fun, the real kind of beauty goes a whole lot deeper. It stems from kindness and a good heart. Here are ten quotes from knock-out ladies who know the truth about real beauty:

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” - Audrey Hepburn

“You may be pretty, and you may be talented, but nobody will remember that if you’re mean.” – Katie Holmes

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness.” - Drew Barrymore

"My great hope for us as young women is to start being kinder to ourselves so that we can be kinder to each other. To stop shaming ourselves and other people for things we don't know the full story on — whether someone is too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too loud, too quiet, too anything. There's a sense that we're all 'too' something, and we're all not enough." – Emma Stone

“You know when I feel inwardly beautiful? When I am with my girlfriend and we are having a ‘goddess circle’.” – Jennifer Aniston

“Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.” – Coco Chanel 

“A smile is the best makeup a girl can wear.” – Marilyn Monroe 

“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” - Taylor Swift 

Kindness is part of our beauty philosophy.

                     

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A Colorful Diet and Beauty

 

“Antioxidant” has been a major buzzword for years. We’ve heard it countless times. Antioxidants seem to be infused in every beauty product we buy from hair conditioner to sunscreen to body wash. And we flock to it, don’t we? Any chance of slowing down the aging process and boosting our natural beauty is good by us!

Study after study continues to show that antioxidants truly are a game changer for our skin (read a phenomenal explanation on the power of antioxidants HERE). By fighting against the free radicals that not only accelerate aging but are also linked to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, antioxidants prove to be beneficial for both our bodies and our beauty.

There is something to be said for going to the root of the source and grabbing those antioxidants straight from colorful fruits and vegetables. Here are some produce options extremely high in antioxidants to add to your shopping list.

Berries:

With many varieties to choose from full of vibrant reds, blues, and purples, berries are a fruit low in sugar and rich in antioxidants. Blueberries are also shown to help acne sufferers!

 

Leafy Greens:

Kale and spinach have been popping up in every restaurant and smoothie shop for a reason. Among a long list of other benefits, a diet high in leafy greens has been shown to benefit those with rosacea.

Prunes:

Prunes have a lot of negative stereotypes: 1. They’re for old people. 2. They only serve the purpose of keeping us regular. 3. They taste bad. But none of these are true! An excellent source of antioxidants, a couple of prunes can make a great slightly sweet, anti-aging snack.

Red Bell Pepper:

Not only are these mild peppers high in antioxidants, they are also full of vitamin C, which helps boost collagen production. A must for youthful skin!

Beans:

With fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, and high amounts of antioxidants (especially red kidney beans and pinto beans!), beans are an incredible source of all-round health and weight control. 

Avocado:

We often praise avocados for their source of healthy fats (and they definitely deserve the praise!). But avocados are also high in antioxidants and biotin, a mineral important for hair health. 

Of course, if at all possible, if you can buy these fruits and vegetables organic, or from a farmer’s market where you know the growers, that is a great investment. Purity from the inside out.

                     

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