|My current bathroom shelf // personal picture|
In the Simple Life series, I'd like to present you how I approach various life areas, based on my idea of simplicity I've been refining these past few years. After the reflection around usefulness and aesthetics, here is my current take on body care, and how important this is in a simple life.
Like most girls, I've learned my body care basics with my mother. She is a very simple woman, and she taught me two things: being healthy and soignée, and refusing to spend an inordinate amount of time and money on beauty care and products as we are beautiful the way we are.
As a teenager, I made most of my beauty discoveries with friends: mostly Agnès b. make-up products, ordered from Jeune & Jolie magazine leaflets, and the Monoprix store's beauty floor. And these were joyful years, testing new make-up products and body creams during pyjama nights with friends.
From these two experiences, I have learned to consider body care both as an indispensable way to keep my body healthy and my appearance well-groomed, but also to enjoy and having fun experimenting around. My simplification years taught me a third component: body care as a way to be connected, and at ease, with my body.
A Health CapitalIf there is one sure thing about our bodies - no matter what science fiction literature says about it - is that we are going to keep the same one until we die. Which makes our bodies the most important "material" to take care of.
Paying attention to our health isn't only about what we eat or our fitness habits, it is also about what kind of products we put on our skin, how we protect it from sunburns and pollution, hydrate it in winter, how we notice and heal rashes and other external signs of problems or illness.
This sounds pretty ordinary and generic, but there are a few important points in my simplified vision of body care as a health support:
- A bit like the stereotype of Chinese medicine, I believe in the preventing over curing idea - for example, putting on sunscreen before any sunburn occurs. Too often, we don't really pay attention to our bodies and cure or correct once it has reacted, and shown external signs of a problem. I think the first step to body care is to implement daily routines to take care of our health capital on a daily basis and prevent possible issues, instead of only reacting when there is something wrong.
- Keep the routine as simple and natural as possible - What we put on our skin everyday is as important as what we eat. I think that marketing, ads, beauty blogs etc. sell us a lot of different items, make us believe we have to buy and use this wide range of products to be "a proper woman/adult". I think, on the contrary, that we should move away from these imposed standards, and keep things as simple and natural as possible - the "unique oil" Dominique Loreau mentions in her book is a very good start.
- The objective is to maintain our health capital, not to "be beautiful" - It is easy to make a confusion between the two, especially when anti-age products use the very words of "health capital" in their advertising. In my simplified vision of body care, it is about protecting and nurturing our body the way it is. It is not about hiding "flaws", or making us look closer to beauty standards (by wearing push-up bra for example) - it is about looking as "me" as possible, sublimating what is already awesome about my body as it is.
Example of healthy body care routines: Find a few products that work for your skin (floral water, natural oils, natural shampoo...) and implement a slow and pleasant morning and evening routine. There is no rule about what works or not, but I think these rituals are not only a way to take care of our body but also to prepare for phases of our day (going to bed, or on the contrary be ready for the outer world). Routines can include: removing make-up, brushing teeth and putting a natural, hydrating oil on the face, hydrate, massage the skin before putting on make-up, srcub the body (especially knees and elbows) in the shower once a week...
Note: Despite my best efforts to eat natural food with as little chemical products as possible for as early as my young adult age, I realized I have never really paid that kind of attention to the beauty products I'm using daily. As a part of nurturing my health, I have decided to research and refine my beauty routine toward less products, and of more natural origin - the first step being to deplete my current stock by the end of this year.
Physical MeditationBody care rituals are to the body what meditation is to the mind: a way to be aware of our body, to know and appreciate all aspects of ourselves, spend quality moments taking care of that body, which is a part of ourselves, and not a thing to mistreat or hate.
In her book l'Art de la Simplicité, Dominique Loreau mentions the subject of body care, notably the Japanese's rituals around bathing. She writes about the importance to take time for our body, bush our back, hydrate the skin with a multi-purpose oil. When I was in Japan, there was a mini bathtub in my student room, and I really enjoyed my evening bath, with scented salts, when I came back from work at 1AM.
Overall, I think body care rituals are a way to connect with our body, feel it, be inside it - if it makes any sense. In a way, during these rituals, my body becomes my body again, and not an assemblage of fat thighs, short legs, round face... Over time, I found these daily rituals helped accepting and loving my body, be my body.
Examples of body care rituals: in any case, the idea is to take the time to engage in these rituals regularly, pay attention to how you feel, "listen" to your body, enjoy these moments while you are taking care of yourself. It can be taking a bath, applying a face mask, hydrating and massaging your legs with a cream or oil, bathe your feet in steaming water with salts then scrub them... It can also include going to a spa to get a professional massage, or going to the hammam, if your finances allow to indulge in that type of treat.
As A ConclusionTo me, simplified body care is about connecting with our bodies, taking care of it, nurturing our health and appearing to our best. It is a way to treat ourselves well, be induglent, understand, accept and love our body the way it is. It is also a way to listen to it, notice the little signs that something is going wrong and prevent it as early as possible.
Also, one barrier to body care could also be that it is viewed as selfish or vain. I believe there is nothing wrong in making sure that our body is developing and ageing smoothly and in good health. After all, how can we keep our energy to carry out our projects and help our close ones if we are unhealthy, or in conflict with our own self? As I discovered these past few years, we are much more available and efficient at listening and helping others when we feel good inside.