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inner beauty, outer beauty, and defending Carrie Fisher

Next to mental health and personal growth stuff, beauty is my favorite thing to talk about.  And since my last couple posts have been pretty heavy-duty, today let's talk about beauty.

I have worked in the beauty industry off and on since the mid-eighties, with a serious concentration in it the last twenty years.  Now I follow a lot of beauty influencers on YouTube and blogs and will watch and rewatch my favorite ones as a way of self-soothing.  I rarely watch TV, and I rarely do much on my computer except for write or watch my lovely YouTubers.  When beauty journalist Sali Hughes goes through another influencer's stash of skincare products to discuss them it is like porn to me.  Or sometimes she does makeup porn, which is my second favorite (see Sali in action here).   Still, it's not good to get too obsessed because obviously there are more important things in life.  If we are not careful the world of beauty can lead to a lot of criticism, judgementalness, and perfectionism.  The whole criticizing Carrie Fisher thing in particular really upsets me.  It happened a couple years back before she died, but it bothers me to this day.

When Carrie Fisher appeared in Star Wars: The Awakening everyone slammed her for looking old and having aged poorly.  They compared her with her 20-year-old self in the first Star Wars movie which was completely ridiculous.  I thought Carrie in The Awakening was beautiful - for someone at any age.  The negative comments that came out when the movie released were cruel and in my opinion way off the mark.  None of us look like we did in our 20s and it's so unfair to compare our older bodies and selves to our younger ones.  It is in no way realistic.

Furthermore, Carrie Fisher did not have an easy life so even if she did look a bit worn out it was really a matter of her baring battle scars.   Given all that she's been through, she could have looked a lot rougher.  For example, did you know that she was bipolar?  And that often her meds made her fat and blow up like a balloon?  And that in an effort to not go that route she underwent over a year of electric shock therapy - now known as electroconvulsive therapy (ETC) - for her depression? Because of that, she lost the weight but she also lost her short-term memory.  It just proves that you never know what someone else is going through or has gone through.

 Drug addiction was another cross she had to bear, and if anyone out there thinks that addiction is a choice or a moral failing you can unfollow me now.  Carrie did get sober and did write about all of this in her autobiography Shockaholic (btw she is a fun read, I recommend checking out her books).  She was upfront about her demons.  And despite all she went through, in her last Star Wars movie she looked fabulous:  eyes bright, confident in her skin, and wearing her tenderness on her sleeve.  Besides, she looked WAY better than Mark Hamill who I thought was unrecognizable, and no one was commenting on him.  Sorry, that was catty of me and completely against what I am trying to portray here.  But you see I have an inescapable critic too, it's just usually focused on myself.

I believe that people who are critical and judgemental of others are probably at least that harsh with themselves in their internal dialog even if they aren't always aware of it.  It is second nature to some of us and it comes from everywhere:  society, the media, our upbringing.  For example, just the other day a family member of mine commented on another family member in a photograph,  "She has a darling face but she looks huge."  I replied that I thought she was not huge, that she looked fine.  But..."Oh yes, she is wide!"  I dropped the subject fast because, in reality, she was a lot less "huge" than me.   You see, there I go being compassionate of another while unforgiving of myself.

Critical voices are stuck in my head.  I judge myself non-stop in the most perfectionistic way possible.  But so does the family member that made that comment.  It's a learned behavior.  It's automatic.  It's like, I better judge myself and hopefully fix myself before anyone else can judge me and find me lacking.  That shit's got to stop.  Here and now.  I believe that being kinder and gentler to others, practicing compassion towards others, is a step in the right direction. And then (here's the tricky part) we can try to consciously insert a kind and loving voice into our own head.  A cheerleader voice who tells us we are fabulous, gorgeous, and amazing.  I know we may not believe that voice at first but let's fake it till we make it.  We can surround ourselves physically with wonderful support systems and supportive peeps.  Ditch the mean girls!  And personally, I need to get back into writing and saying positive affirmations like  "I love my body!" (that's one of my toughest).  "I am powerful and I am loved!", "I am healthy, wealthy, and whole!" etc.*  Positive affirmations are powerful stuff - they reprogram our brains.

So yeah, I have no trouble working on external beauty, I just need to balance it out with working on the beauty inside my head.   I suspect that is true for many of us.


* Louise Hay is the queen of positive affirmations and if you are having trouble thinking up positive things to say to yourself, she has a little book of affirmations for practically any situation called I Can Do It.

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