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Fake it to make it?

From: A Balanced View,

Fake it to make it?

Laura and I were in a shoe shop (we are women with killer shoe collections) and a teenage girl entered the shop with her boyfriend. We smelled her before we saw her. She smelled of fake strawberries and other sweet childish stuff. She was actually orange and had obvious hair extensions, fake nails and more make-up than Madame Jojo’s and it got us thinking. Is this what sexy is now?

I asked husband for his opinion. Always an interesting place to start. He blames low grade mainstream porn mags like Nuts and Zoo magazine for telling guys that’s what’s sexy. But these guys are missing a trick too. It takes courage to stand out and say 'that’s not what I want' when society deems it to be beautiful and that without that on your arm you are apparently a loser. We are being told what’s sexy, but actually sex appeal is a transient, often intangible force combined of many different qualities. I’ve done my research and it seems to be a combination of talent, personality, presence, style, poise, intelligence, humour and lifestyle choices, not just body shape or facial attributes. Certainly no one mentioned fake tan and nails.

I’m 35 years old. I’m no stranger to hair dye (it was blue for most of 1998). Makeup and I are best friends (organic of course) and I’ve even tried hair extensions (couldn’t stop pulling the darn things out) but I truly prefer myself without too much faffing around.

In honesty, though, it’s taken me a while to get here and a lot of working on my self esteem to stop trying to hide behind the image of perfection pushed at me by the TV and magazines. There are layers to why I have concerns about this.

Firstly, the psychological aspect. We have millions of young girls growing up where this type of barbie doll perfection is becoming thought of as the only way to be considered pretty. This leads to huge self esteem issues not to mention deeper issues like bulimia, anorexia and even self harming.

Secondly, just as worryingly it’s the effect on our health all these beauty products are having. Phthalates are a plastic derivative found in many cosmetics and hair products they are linked to genital malformation in the foetus, cancer and infertility. The word parfum on a bottle is a euphemism for up to 200 chemicals that have been linked to cancers, neuro toxicity and brain damage. Maybe not the 'Lynx Effect' you were looking for, eh lads?

Parabens are a type of preservative in everything, including processed food. They’ve been linked to learning difficulties, cancer and hormone disruptions including early onset puberty in young girls. Sodium lauryl sulphate is used to make products foam. This nasty chemical has been linked to cataracts, flaky skin and impaired hair growth.

Unfortunately you need to become a label checker to spot them, because cost and branding is no yard stick. Some of the most prized and costly products are the worst and the word 'natural' doesn’t mean anything in the world of marketing.

Look for clean products such as Neals Yard Organic Remedies, REN skincare, Dr Hauschka, and Faith in Nature. Good cosmetics to use are the mineral makeup brands. You can even get non toxic cleaning products for your home.

What we really need to start doing, though, is celebrating the human body in all it’s myriad shapes, smells, and styles and learn to celebrate our uniqueness. We have to stop teaching our children that polluting themselves and hating themselves because they don’t look like the airbrushed celebrity in the magazine is normal. Actually, skin smells delicious and hair feels lovely when it’s not slathered or crunchy with product.

I’m bringing real life sexy back. Who's in?

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