Greetings to you, on these days leading up to the Summer Solstice. This is a busy, overwhelming time of year, isn’t it? Last year in the Divine Download, I likened the days leading up to Summer Solstice being a lot like the roller coasters I grew up riding; the slow click, click, click that brings you to the zenith of the metal contraption, and creates the necessary momentum to get you through the rest of the thrilling ride.
This is exactly what we’ve been doing, in my opinion. Each day since the December Winter Solstice has been of those “clicks” in our ascent to the top. And these final days are when we really feel how far we’ve come, how high we’ve climbed.
There may be no better place in this country to experience “busy” and “overwhelm” than New York City, which is exactly where I was last week. I decided to take a bite out of the Big Apple and attend the Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Summit, positioning myself and river island apothecary beside some of the world’s biggest beauty brands.
There, in the elegant Conrad Hilton Hotel, in a room full of perfect brows and Manolo Blahniks, I saw something that surprised me.
I noticed it in the first speaker. Though she didn’t talk about it, she had a fresh face. Dewy. She wasn’t powdered and matte and “perfect” like many of the other women in attendance.
Then Alicia Yoon, CEO and founder of Peach and Lily, spoke. She stood at the podium also with a fresh face, also dewy. She looked great, and she wasn’t wearing the requisite pile-of-make-up that most other female attendees wore. She described what beauty meant in Korea and showed us images of “beauties” that she met on the streets of Korea. These beauties, like Alicia, had fresh faces. Alicia told us that one of the main beauty concerns for Koreans was sun damage. Not the hyperpigmentation that Americans brew over, but rather the loss of the skin’s translucency. Like, the way a baby’s skin is. She described a wellness at the heart of Korean beauty. She differentiated wellness from vanity.
Then, Maren Guiliano, the executive global Whole Body coordinator for Whole Foods, talked. She told us about the way Whole Foods approaches beauty care. For example, there are 50+ ingredients that are flat out not allowed in any beauty product carried there. And if you want their ultimate “premium standard”, then there are 400+ ingredients that are not allowed. She went on to align food and nutrition with beauty, and reiterated the theme that Alicia mentioned: wellness is beauty.
We’ve all heard that “beauty comes from within”, which implies that it’s your attitude and your personality that is what make you beautiful. And of course this is true. But “beauty comes from within” is beginning to mean something else, too. And not just to hippies, health food store shoppers and Aromatherapists. To the world.
Beauty is beginning to veer away from “perfection”, as in a mask perfectly even skin color. Beauty is beginning to be defined by things like quality of our circulation, the hydration of our skin, what our complexion reveals about our diet, and the air quality we’re surrounded by. And also our attitude, our happiness, our peace within, our joie de vivre. Ultimately, whether or not we are nourished, or depleted.
This means that if we do not consider ourselves “beautiful”, we need to look at our wellness rather than our make-up bag. We need to look at our lifestyle, not our brows.
My friend and Ayurveda teacher here in Asheville, Vishnu Dass, was describing wellness to our class. He said that wellness really had nothing to do with whether or not you are “disease free”. He gave an example of a patient of his with Hepatitis C who, though “sick”, exemplified amazing wellness. And he also described people who didn’t have any pathology to speak of, a doctor would consider them “clean”, and yet they were not well.
So here, at this wonderful vantage point of Summer Solstice, when you can see the whole amusement park from the top of your roller coaster, take stock. Do you consider yourself “well”? Do you see how wellness could play a larger role, or a measure, in your life? Do you see where and how wellness can help you define your own beauty? How and how often do you nourish yourself with vibrant food, experiences, relationships and study?
These are some questions to ponder as we climb to the top of the coaster over the next few days. And when we come up with the answers, let’s integrate them into the rest of the year’s thrilling ride.
Thanks for reading!