Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Finding Self Love in Alaska

Last night I "Did the Puyallup," a yearly fair, and thoroughly enjoyed the Tilt-a-Whirl, a freshly baked scone, a visit with a cow named Honey and beauty confessions from a variety of women. Oh, I should probably explain that last one.

Jennifer Worick, Beauty Editor for realself.com and the special guest at my upcoming October 3rd Sugar & Swank event, invited me to be her wingwoman as she collected videotaped beauty confessionals from women at The Fair to air on the realself.com website. The idea is to talk with real women about what they have learned about beauty throughout their lives. This might mean secret beauty tips such as, "I smother my face and body with Vitamin E oil every night," to defining beauty moments such as, "I always used to pick my cuticles until I realized I was literally picking on myself and stopped."

Learning the beauty secrets of so many women of all ages, races, sizes and backgrounds was incredibly interesting. I won't give away too much because you'll be able to see all the interviews for yourself on realself.com in a few weeks, but one woman in particular really made an impression on me.

She was in the cow stalls sitting on pile of hay, shovel in hand, when we approached her. Tall and slender, this Ali Larter look-a-like was a natural beauty, even in her ponytail and overalls.

Jennifer and I explained the realself.com project to her as we cooed over her perfectly clear, ivory skin that contained not even a stitch of make-up.

"Me?" she questioned. "You want to interview me about something beauty related? Are you serious? And clear skin? You must be joking! I've suffered from acne since I was eight years old."

We turned on the camera and let her talk. She explained how while growing up she was always trying this medication or that cream, yet nothing alleviated the acne breakouts. The acne made her feel different, like an outsider, but she tried to do as her mom always said, "Focus on your personality."

Last year, at 25 years old, she decided to find a change of pace in Alaska. When she first arrived she tried to maintain her "mainland" look by keeping up with her lotion, potion and make-up routine but quickly felt like an outsider again, this time because no one else there cared about their appearance - there was too much work to be done and so many other important things to worry about.

She found it easy to adopt this new lifestyle, one where you put emphasis on things with meaning. She spent her time working hard and developing new, deep and lasting friendships. She would shower only every couple of days and gave up on make-up and all the acne "cures." Surprisingly, instead of making her acne worse, it made it disappear. For the first time in her life her skin was clear!

She returned home a week ago and feels out of place. Her old friends seem superficial, she feels as though the media tells us what to buy, who to be and how to look, she doesn't want to shower regularly so she thinks it will be hard to find a job . . . and guess what: the acne's back. She believes that she will go back to Alaska soon, for good.

Listening to her made me sad. She is such a beautiful woman but her self-image seemed, perhaps, a bit off-kilter. But then again, I should be happy for her if she's found home and comfort with herself in Alaska.

And really, that is one thing she kept repeating: "Each of us has to find what makes us feel sexy." Whether it is wearing make-up or not, whether it wearing trends or avoiding them - you have to be true to yourself in order to find peace and happiness in your heart.

In fact, that is the key to Sugar & Swank: Feeling good about yourself and finding ways to feel healthy and confident, inside and out.

If Sugar & Swank can help you achieve that, call Jennifer to book an appointment. She'd be happy to assist you!



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