This is a selfie I shared on Instagram a few weeks ago as part of an initiative by three gorgeous women to celebrate real beauty – beauty without filters and airbrushed pictures.
So this is me. This is exactly what I wrote.
“This is me. The beauty that I am. As I'm writing these words I hear a voice in my head trying to tell me all the reasons why I am not beautiful (enough) and why this photo shouldn't be on IG but the more I grow up (that's how I feel about adding more candles to my birthday cake), so the more I grow up, the more I love the person I see in the mirror. The better I learn to look past skin flaws and see the sparkle in her eyes, the easier it becomes to accept my rebel hair and love my platinum highlights. Have I mentioned that I think I have a beautiful smile and that when I acknowledge how I feel about it I sometimes giggle like a schoolgirl who just received a compliment from her crush?
I have ups and downs. On some days I think that I shouldn't say all these things out loud because there will be people who would think I'm too full of myself. On other days, I compare myself to the images of perfect women I see daily. Fortunately, on most days I love myself with or without makeup.“
A few hours later I did a video because I felt I had something else to share about real beauty, only this time on a very delicate subject for me - #hairgoals.
This is the most candid and raw video I have done so far.
Every now and then I feel it was a big mistake to share that video. There are also moments when I’m seriously tempted to delete it but a bigger part of me knows this video should be out there.
Let me tell you a short story.
Just the other day I saw an ad on Facebook from a natural skincare brand. The ad was a photo of a gorgeous youthful-looking blond woman with flawless skin. Right next to it were the products of the brand.
There was no “anti-ageing” claim, no reference to less wrinkles, etc. But let’s face it, none is needed when such a woman is smiling back at you next to a skincare product.
I don’t know if the photo had been photoshopped but what I do know for sure is that most women don’t look like this when they wake up, when they go to bed or the time in between.
This is how without words we are conditioned to believe that if we use brand Z or that if we use X number of products, our skin would be perfect.
We would be perfect.
It’s because of all those shampoo commercials I have seen through the years of models with full, shiny and perfectly-styled hair I feel like I’m lying when I, someone with fine and what feels like almost missing hair, am saying that I love a hair product and it makes my hair look amazing.
But here’s the discrepancy – my amazing-looking hair is nowhere near the image I have of “perfect hair“, and now it feels wrong for me to talk about hair.
And just like that all these commercials with models made me feel less beautiful and sometimes even less of a woman.
After years in the green beauty world I have come to genuinely love my skin and self (on most days). Although I'm seriously tempted to feel bad about myself when I see the image on my HD laptop screen which highlights every imperfection, I can still look at the above photo and with a heart full of pride think to myself “Yeap, I do look pretty”.
This is something I would have never done a few years ago – posting the above photo but also being able to look past my flaws and see my beauty.
And a big part of it I owe to my favorite brands – the ones that I work with and the ones we don’t offer at Reina Organics.
But the advertisement with the gorgeous blond woman reminded me that natural ingredients or not, how a brand makes a woman feel is just as important to me as the ingredients they use. How a brand markets their products plays a key role here – language, product descriptions, promises but also images.
I have come to notice that most brands I admire rarely use images of people to promote their products. If they do, that would usually be of the founders or people of their team.
Two of the exceptions I can think of are Lina Hanson and Josh Rosebrook.
When you visit the website of Josh Rosebrook you would see photos of both men and women but the images of the products are still dominating. And the people are real, beautiful but also real.
The photos of Lina and all other women are part of a campaign called “I am Global Beauty” which purpose was to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in the world of beauty and beyond.
That’s why I haven’t deleted the video about my hair.
That’s why when the brand with the gorgeous blond woman in their marketing materials contacted me a few months ago I kindly turned them down.
Photo credit to Josh Rosebrook and Lina Hanson.