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Archive for March, 2010

Last night I started reading a most enlightening book; The Beauty Myth: How images of beauty are used against women, by Naomi Wolf.

The premise of the book is that the quest for “beauty” is a psychological constraint devised by men in order to keep women in their place.

Now, bear in mind that I have only read the first couple of chapters, so am perhaps not in the best position to offer an full overview or fully-formed opinion. However, I think it is fairly safe for me to say that this book is quite the eye-opener. As soon as I started reading, I had a strong urge to find a brightly-coloured marker pen and heavily highlight certain passages that I couldn’t help but identify with. To be quite honest, I have found some of the theory to be a little far-fetched and exaggerated, but other parts have a distinct ring of truth to them.

Here, Wolf introduces the idea of The Beauty Myth…

“During the past decade, women breached the power structure. Meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest growing medical speciality… [Now] more women have more money and power and scope and legal recognition than we have ever had before; but in terms of how we feel about ourselves physically, we may actually be worse off than our un-liberated grandmothers. Recent research consistently shows that inside the majority of the West’s controlled, attractive, successful working women, there is a secret ‘underlife’ poisoning our freedom; infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of aging, and dread of lost control.

It is no accident that so many potentially powerful women feel this way. We are in the midst of a violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women’s advancement: the beauty myth. It is the modern version of a social reflex that has been in force since the Industrial Revolution. As women released themselves from the feminine mystique of domesticity, the beauty myth took over its lost ground, expanding as it waned to carry on its work of social control.”

That description of the current state of “woman” certainly rings true for me. Never before have we had so many legal and moral rights, and so much control over our own lives… But, coinciding with this, never before have we had such an obsession with our physical appearance.

So here’s the question…

Is it all a male conspiracy?

Do men have nothing better to do than keep us women ‘down’?

Or are men really very afraid of the power that women could posses if we were to become truly equal with them?

A thought-provoking book, if nothing else.

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This is the first of our series looking at the different ingredients we use in our Freyaluna natural skincare products. After much thought, we have decided that we can’t possibly expect you to pay for our products, and use them on your skin, if you don’t first know a little something about the ingredients we put into them.

So, in this, our first Ingredient Profile, we are going to look at: Shea Butter

Shea butter has been used for centuries on the African continent and is completely enmeshed withing the history and culture of the West African wooded savanna. Shea butter is mentioned in almost all African historical documents, including a reference as early as Cleopatra’s Egypt, which mentions caravans bearing clay jars of shea butter for cosmetic use.

Shea butter is the oil from the nuts that are gathered from wild trees scattered throughout the fields and forests of the wooded savanna. Shea butter has many useful properties and has been used as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, a healing salve for babies umbilical cords and after circumcision, as a cooking oil, and as a lamp fuel.

However, the protective and emollient properties of shea butter are most valued for skincare.

Unrefined shea butter contains an abundance of healing ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, proteins and a unique fatty acid profile, and is a superior active moisturiser. Unlike petroleum-based moisturisers, shea butter actually restores the skin’s natural elasticity. Shea butter enables your skin to absorb moisture from the air, and as a result, it becomes softer and stays moisturised for longer. Regular users of shea butter notice softer, smoother, healthier skin. Shea butter has also been shown to help with skin conditions and ailments such as extreme dryness, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, skin allergies, fungal infections, blemishes, wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, and more.

At Freyaluna we use shea butter in many of our products, including our range of Cupcake Bath Melts and Bath Melt Crumbles, our selection of Massage Bars, our Perfectly Moisturising Hand Cream, and our Night Time Foot Butter. These products are available in our Folksy shop.

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I am just starting the first week of about a month as one of the ‘unemployed’. Don’t worry… It is through choice!

Here’s the story…

Freyaluna is relocating… to London! I am moving from my sleepy village in green and leafy North Wales, to the ‘big smoke’ of London. Talk about a culture shock!  I’m moving to live with my lovely man in Greenwich. But I’m not going until the beginning of May.

Why did I leave work so early? I hear you ask.

Well, I work with children, and this week is the start to the Easter school holidays and I thought that it would be best to leave at the end of a school term so that the children can get used to the idea of having somebody new to look after them, than disrupting their summer term by leaving half-way through.

So I’ve got a month of twiddling my thumbs before I move… Twiddling my thumbs? The chance would be a fine thing!

I’ve got so much stuff to sort through and clear out. Last weekend it was my wardrobe… It was a little bit painful, but also a little bit liberating to get rid of clothes and shoes that I hadn’t worn for months, possibly years. The task I most need to do, and the task I most don’t want to do, is to sort through my workroom. I’m really dreading it. However-many-years’ worth crafting supplies, ingredients, packaging, products, and the rest… It all has to be sorted, tidied, packed and moved the 200 miles down to London. On top of all of Freyaluna’s stuff to transport, there’s all of my personal items. It’s going to bit quite a mission!

The poor man really doesn’t know what’s about to hit him! To be fair to him, I have tried to explain… About the storage needed… the fact that crafting takes over every surface in the house… strange concoctions being brewed in the kitchen… I could go on! What makes it worse is that he’s quite tidy and minimalist. I, as I’m sure many crafters are, am quite messy… well maybe not messy as such, eclectic is a nicer word for it. I like to think it’s quite endearing…

Ah well, he’ll soon find out!

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As you can see, Freyaluna’s mantra is “Love yourself, naturally”.

By this, we not only mean to love yourself by using natural products and not adding unneccessary chemicals to your skin and your life, but we also mean to love yourself as you are in the here and now!

All too many of us have the idea of an ‘ideal body’, and believe that meeting this goal will mean happiness. We think ” I’ll be happy when I’ve lost these few extra pounds,” or ” I’ll be happy when I can fit into my old jeans again.”

Ask yourself this question… Will you? Is that really what you need to make you happy?

Ok, so we’ve all seen the stick-thin models on the catwalks, in magazines, and on the TV… They seem to be everywhere! Sitting in your living room and seeing all of these beautifully slim women parading before your eyes every time you turn on the telly or open a magazine, you start to look at yourself in a negative light, thinking that you must be abnormal because you’re not the same as these ‘goddesses’!

Time for a reality check…

The average British woman is 5ft 3in tall (as opposed to the sky-scraper heights of the catwalk models), with a 40 inch hip measurement (size 14).

So isn’t it time we got over this obsession with the ‘ideal body’? To silence your inner critic remember these points;

If we look back over the years we can see that ‘beauty’ has been a fluid notion throughout history, and that many features make people appealing, not just their size. Look, for example, at the Venus of Willendorf, a prehistoric carving of a female figure. The Venus is not a realistic portrayal but rather an idealisation of the female figure. She has exaggerated curves, large breasts, a bit of a pot belly, chubby thighs, and much-rounded hips. Perhaps not today’s idea of beauty, but in prehistoric times such a figure suggested that a woman was well-fed, and fertile. And the ‘ideal body shape’ has changed many, many times since then.

Carry out your own reality check… Take a piece of string and mark off how much you think you need to encircle your waist. Then wrap the string around your waist and note the difference: the string is invariably too long as most of us over-estimate our size.

Learn to silence that niggling voice… Listen to how you talk about yourself. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, turn it around by talking yourself up. For example, while you may not be physically ‘perfect’ you have features (like slim ankles, toned arms, or beautiful hair) that are objectively good. Concentrate on these points instead of focusing on the negative.

Enjoy the sensation… For example, enjoying how your body feels when you dance shifts the emphasis from your appearance to how you experience your body, which, in turn, enhances appreciation of your physical self. So opt for the well-being choices you can make every day – like resting when tired, walking when stressed, eating well, or simply finding a bit of ‘me time’ and taking a long soak in an aromatic bath.

I can recommend some lovely products for that last one!

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