Creating Beautiful Skin
The heat hit us like a wave the second we got off the plane. Being respectful to the culture in Indonesia we were covered up across our shoulder and down to our ankles. Have you tried to do that on a hot summers day in Australia? Not likely. Here we bare as much of our bodies as we can in the efforts to free our skin of the sweaty pool pouring from us. It's not like they aren't sweating in Indonesia, they are. Suddenly you are so aware of the physical desires that are being pushed through to live the level of respect they chose to show the human body. It's not a case of it being a sin or not; a law or not; a right or not. It's a case of honour and knowing that our bodies are precious, a gift to be looked after and shared when appropriate. It's an expression of their level of managing that. In the middle of it being uncomfortable physically, you find yourself realising that it's actually also really precious. I wasn't prepared to be thinking like that.
We spent the first few days in Jakarta shopping for items to take to Bukit Gloria with us as well as meeting the people who had set up the trip and getting accustomed to the culture before getting to the school. The thing that stood out most in Jakarta was, apart from the intensity of the population, (and the fact that lines on the highway seem to merely be there for decoration) that things weren't that different to Australia. The shopping centres were huge and felt like being back home. In one very strange way in particular...
Walking through them something dawned on me....all of the images of models in the shops were of white skinned people. ALL of them. Posters plastered around clearly indicating (like every marketing image intends to do so well) the level you should be attempting to reach too on a physical level. The images portray beauty, example 'confidence' and tell you how you should be presenting yourself to then be deemed beautiful. All of these marketing influences surrounding a nation, yet not one of them had the same skin colour as the people born there.
What does that do to a persons perception of beauty? When it's regularly reinforced that what's beautiful is also actually unachievable to you? How does your mentality deal with that mindset?
One day we saw the depths of how this mindset gets a hold of a person. It was the hottest day we'd experienced since we'd been there, a heat that literally had you wanting to do nothing but drink water and lie down in the shade, putting all of your energy into concentrating on not melting into oblivion. Instead of giving into that, we were sitting in a cafe, observing the strangest thing. A young man from the school that was out for lunch with us pulled out a thick coat and put it on. Yes, you read that right, a coat. I was in the middle of cursing every inch of clothing stopping my body from freely breathing and this man was layering up with more material than is worn on the coldest day in Brisbane!
In complete shock I asked our host why he would do that since his shirt underneath was already covering him down to his wrists. She explained that to be beautiful is to have white skin. That on hot days they put as many layers on as possible to prevent the sun touching their skin and making them any darker than they already have to be.
Does this disturb you as much as it disturbed me?
In the middle of pushing down the fury that another human has been made to put themselves through that due to the effects of marketing...it dawns on me. How are we any different? We have the same mindset, just in reverse. In Australia we lather up in oil and sit out in the sun. We expose as much skin as possible attempting to not get any tan lines, sit ourselves under a scorching sun, happily pushing through the heat to get darker....'because then I'll be more beautiful'. We ignore cancer warnings, jump onto sun beds and spend loads of dollars on spray tans or tanning creams to alter the very skin that we were born with, believing it to not be good enough as it is.
What's happened in both Indonesia and Australia is that businesses, (who's goals are driven by making money, not by loving people) have moved in and set up their powerful presence. They have convinced people there is a level to jump to and as do sheep, humanity has jumped in line shouting how high. That desire to feel beautiful is so strong it takes over within a person and pushes them to ignore all reason and rationality and surge towards a goal...even if it's unachievable...even if life threatens their health.
Who decided which skin colour was beautiful? What right does white have over black? What beauty is there in tanned over pale? Where did these thoughts originate from?
If the thoughts and the processes we live by exist because someone saw we could be manipulated, resulting in them making money, why are we still the sheep following along? Are you happy to pass over your money and to risk your health to jump for a bar that will only keep being raised higher?
Beauty comes in all sorts of physical forms. It even stems from us each being unique in our appearance and therefore interesting and intriguing...one of a kind that can then only be precious because it's rare; because WE are rare. True beauty comes from who we are as a person. It comes from our soul and shines out through our eyes for all to see. If we remain focused on perfecting on our physical appearance what time do we have left to work on our character, building the beauty in our soul? There is none. But in that process there is one hell of a loyal customer to the beauty industry that has been created.
Please put this down, go to your mirror and look at your skin. Take your time. Stare at it. Absorb the amazing function that it provides you. Consider how it replaces itself and how it protects you. Each mark and scar tells a story, each freckle is unique to you. In this time show gratitude to your skin (yes! THANK YOUR SKIN!) for being a part of you, for being unique to you, for being YOU. Take this time to also capture any thoughts that pop up that are preventing you from loving your skin. Write them down. Yes, I mean it. Tomorrow, go back and read what you wrote. How relevant are those thoughts? How are they really effecting your life? Can you pinpoint the source of the negativity? Did it originate in YOU, or through someone or something else?
Should these thoughts have power over you? If they don't make you happy, are you sure you want to keep them?
Ask any 6 year old if they love their skin. I bet you they say they do or simply look puzzled at such an irrelevant and odd question. I bet you loved yours at 6, or more likely, it wasn't even a consideration to you as you were too busy enjoying life. If it didn't bug you at 6, are you sure you want to let it bug you now?
Creating beautiful skin doesn't require a change of colour. It requires love from YOU for your own body. It requires you loving yourself for the way you were created, confidently knowing that you are enough, that you ARE beautiful, just as you are.
All For Mary - Creative Director
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