Beauty: Acceptance and Holistic Vanity, by Kristen Ma

“There’s a part of me that wants to do so much good for the world, and then there’s the other part that just wants to buy stuff,” my friend Emma recently said to me. Emma, who is doing her masters in social work, is probably the most fashionable social worker I ever met, and when she said this, I laughed because I feel exactly the same way.

One side of me wants to strive for higher consciousness, learn to be still, and give back to the community, while the other side of me is delighted by my new cream-coloured pumps and is quite happy to stuff my face with corn puffs while watching Project Runway. Perhaps this sums up the sentiment in our modern age. Maybe it’s the struggle of our generation? Whatever it is, I think so many of us see this dichotomy between having substance and being superficial, and are confused about the choices we are to make.

Looking for a balance between these two worlds also presents itself in my work. While we work so hard to promote (and believe) that beauty is not about impersonating celebrities but attained only through health and self-empowerment, there is a part of me that could obsess about myself in my bedroom full-length mirror forever… and, oh, I do.

I must confess I take a full inventory of my complexion every morning, taking stock of my black heads, broken capillaries and any dry patches. I monitor the progress of both my eye bags and jowls (which my girlfriends insist are a delusion – but you know how generous girlfriends can be), and run my finger over areas that I am sure will one day have expression lines. I usually end with the daily examination of my pigmentation spot on my left cheek bone, which is the bane of my existence. When everything is accounted for, I make note of my various plans of action based on the morning’s assessment (maybe I should start using neck firming serum). Now, while you may think I’m a complete narcissist, at least I’m honest.

But despite my vanity, my plans of action never include compromising my health. At the risk of sounding condescending (and as a former vegan, I am not unfamiliar with sounding this way), my belief system just doesn’t include chemical medications, fillers or injections of any kind, or unnecessary surgeries. I also do not believe that any of our beauty ailments can truly be treated without examining the state of our mind, body and spirit.

As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I attribute my pigmentation to high internal heat, my eye bags to kidney dysfunction and my onset of jowls to excess dampness. And I take a more holistic approach, misting my skin with organic Rose Hydrosol, decreasing my salt intake, and doing yoga at least three times a week. I found that this approach worked also with curing my terrible and persistent acne. If you can overcome the kind of acne which I had with these health-focused principles, it’s something to spread around.

Even though my skin is now thankfully blemish-free, my journey to clearer skin has also made way for my addiction to alternative health treatments. I now employ a team of practitioners to keep me looking and feeling my best – bankrolling two acupuncturists, a colon therapist, an RMT, as well as a psychoanalyst, an Ayurvedic doctor, and on occasion, a muscle tester. It’s because of my habits that someone suggested I start a blog, Holistic Vanity, outlining what I found worked and didn’t work to help others who are looking for the same marriage of health and gorgeousness.

This is my way of synchronizing our modern expectations with more positive values and hope that readers will find familiarity, humour and useful beauty information in my posts.

Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up.  She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India.  She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia.  Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company.  Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine.  She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine. She blogs regularly at Holistic Vanity.