The Bath of Perplexing Insight

Whilst staying over at my parents’ “country ranch” this weekend I had a lovely long soak in the bath; a luxury in light of the temperamental shower featured in my little city bathroom.

Lined up on the edge of the bath were several goodies best enjoyed in the context of a bath: most notably a new face mask from the Body Shop and a hair treatment that promised to assist me in seeking to stabilise my ever-changing hair colour (seriously though: the minute it sees the sun it leaves behind its ginger roots – pun intended – for unknown planes, via of course the Land of Lady Gaga Yellow.) I digress.

As I enjoyed lavender bubbles, reading time and Christmas music playing in the background (it’s the end of October, this is now fully acceptable), I started to really resent the two products peering over the edge of the bath at me. I battled in my mind between thinking I really should get the beauty regimen started and throwing a tantrum akin to that of a two year-old who really doesn’t want to to eat her green beans.

And perhaps I am reading too much into it, but with freshly radiating face and somewhat toned locks I reflected on my reluctance to engage in grooming earlier that morning. I love products and think it’s nice to keep one’s self looking presentable, and most of the time find pruning quite therapeutic…but I think sometimes it gets tiring to constantly be self-improving. It’s not ‘maintenance’. It’s this whirlwind of looking for and finding and reworking and fixing and looking for again new ways to make ourselves look good. Because we aren’t good enough.

Because our bodies are not finished or complete. We aren’t fill-in-the-blank enough. There is always something to work on.

And really, there always will be. The truth is that we are dying. From the day we enter in this world, our bodies are decaying.

But that does not mean that we are imperfect or not finished. It doesn’t mean that we need to be trapped in the hamster wheel of enslaving our bodies to perpetual embetterment – which, by the way, other than not actually being a word, is something that is never finished, and never satisfied.

Of course, advertising and marketing have a certain dose of responsibility to take for this.

“Advertising is set up to create a gulf between people – the consumer and what they’re trying to attain. I think it potentially creates that mental dialogue for a lot of people where you’re not enough as you are, you’re not enough until you have that or until you look like that.”Model Lily Cole

We have also though to claim the role we play in our own entrapment. We choose to listen to the voices that tell us we aren’t — enough. We choose to engage in the mental dialogue perhaps introduced by external sources. We choose to buy into the hamster wheel. We choose to not fight back.

So I’ve not decided to boycot face masks or grooming. Evening manicure time kept me sane during my PGCE and other more stressful periods of life. And I like a bit of sparkle.

However, I’m making a conscious effort not to ruin baths with self-imposed unnecessary imperatives. I’m choosing to act in a way that reflects the fact that my body is not perfect, but it is not a work-in-progress that isn’t passable until the next miracle product discovery, 5 pounds lost or hair salon trip. It is not the media’s project, or even my own. It is complete. It is working. It is strong. It is beautiful. It is good.

And I am ‘good enough’.

PS: while on the topic of products, especially those hailing from the cruelty-free, anti-slavery delight that is The Body Shop, my three favourites this weather are the Spice Vanilla Body Butter, Love ETC Solid Perfume and Warming Mineral Face Mask (see them posing on the Bath of Perplexing Insight below). There is nothing wrong with buying and using products and I enjoy these much more knowing that the company is ethical in a fairly comprehensive way. Get in on the fun. 

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