Our skin is a magical organ. It is the link between our internal and external worlds in more ways than the physical aspect. In a recent podcast, I learned that neuroscientists have never found a section of the brain that holds long term memory. It turns out, instead, memory of our life may actually reside within our skin inside the fascial plane of the dermis and the sub-dermal area. Not only do our muscles have memory, but our skin does too! This fascinating knowledge is understood among massage therapists, as memories and / or “trauma” is sometimes released during bodywork sessions.
From this perspective, we can reimagine our skin not only as a barrier against air pollution and sun, but it is also the interface between space-time and who we are. In so many ways, our skin is where our self-identity begins, but certainly doesn’t end. It offers the opportunity to rethink our identity from a completely new perspective. Our self-worth, for example, is not defined by how we appear on the outside, but how we radiate our life and our experiences from the inside.
Are we really making ourselves more beautiful by what we apply to our skin?
As an esthetician, I am awed at how people treat their skin. On a daily basis, the average woman applies up to 160 carcinogens to her skin with various cleansers, serums, moisturizers, sunscreens, and cosmetics. Many of these products are applied to freshly exfoliated skin, traumatizing new cell growth and driving poisons directly into the bloodstream. We scrub, poke, peel, squeeze, and cover up this beautiful organ in the name of beauty. From all that is applied to the skin, to chemical residues in our water systems to the overuse of these chemicals across our body’s surface, it all results in the loss of cellular communication and depletion of our skin’s regenerative potential. The integrity of our skin is jeopardized and with it, we also lose sight of our self identity.
Furthermore, when we look beyond the effects of chemicals to our outermost protective barrier, we see the most horrific damage to our skin not coming from our external environment, but rather our internal world through microbiome imbalances, digestion issues, poor diet and lack of self esteem. What has become of our perception of ourselves? Our capacity to destroy our sense of wellness and beauty is remarkable, with our negative self-talk, our belief systems, and the emotional scars we carry.
Even further, as we age, many of us fill our minds with more and more insecurities as we struggle to maintain a youthful look. We regularly beat ourselves up over our concept of beauty, taking risks with our health in balance. In addition to those risks, we express that stress in the way we show up to the world. Now more than ever, we must come to terms with the idea that beauty does not equal youth. Beauty does not come from a lack of wrinkles, the color of your hair, or a perfect complexion. True beauty comes from within, from our presence, from our wellness, and from the youthfulness we exude just by being our true selves.
What lessons are we teaching our children about beauty?
In these current times, more people are becoming obsessed with the lines in their faces and treatments such as Botox are becoming the norm. It’s not just middle aged men and woman who are drawn to the treatment, but young woman in their 20’s and even teens are seeking Botox as “preventative” measures. Since when was aging a bad thing? As a society, we have done a huge disservice to our young girls with unreasonable standards of beauty. Between photo filters erasing all so-called imperfections to young girls wearing makeup, we are teaching our young girls that they are not beautiful enough in their natural state. When looking to our elders, it is not the lack of wrinkles that make them beautiful; it is the love and inner wisdom radiating from them. When asked, most people would say the lines on our grandparents faces make them more beautiful and endearing. Those lines tell stories of an amazing life lived. Current generations are wiping out the abilities to make expressions in the name of beauty, when the real reason is due to the lack of our own emotional maturity. We grew up not “being enough” and we are teaching our children the same karmic cycles in the name of external beauty. Instead of numbing our faces, hiding our imperfections and putting on our masks, we should be showing our vulnerabilities and rallying around each other. We need to remember, our most valuable assets are deeper than our skin, and true beauty radiates from within.
When we look at our own face in the mirror every morning, we can either choose to fixate on our aging skin, or feel gratitude as an emerging elder existing at a pivotal point in human history. Let’s choose to see our lines as statements of a beautiful, expressive life lived. The love within ourselves will radiate much farther than long eyelashes and a smooth forehead. By feeling gratitude within ourselves, we will reposition ourselves toward an even higher expression of humanity, appreciating the wisdom we have lived and welcoming ourselves and our species back into nature.