TEXT BY: Shel Pink; PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Marissa Berrini
In her new book, Slow Beauty, Shel Pink shares her thoughtful approach to the rituals of self-care
Enlightenment is a lofty goal. I’m not suggesting that we all strive to walk around like Buddha every day of our life. Beauty is not—and I repeat, not—a pursuit of perfectionism. Anyway, we are already perfect! Slow Beauty isn’t about beauty as we’ve always known it—and it’s certainly not about the Photoshopped perfection that pervades our culture today.
Slow Beauty is a complete revolution to our thinking about and relationship with beauty. Through this practice, we are redefining beauty together, not as media and mainstream advertising tell us it should be. This isn’t to deny that there’s an external element to beauty, either. Of course there is! Who doesn’t love to acknowledge and admire a beautiful face, body or work of art? Or the awesomeness of a breathtaking display of nature? For some reason, though, we have defined and related to beauty as something that lives only on the surface. And when something doesn’t fit the cultural standard, we ostracize and marginalize it.
The Japanese have philosophies around this, such as wabi sabi, which is all about finding beauty in imperfection and transience, feeling a profound connection to the earth, and honoring authenticity above all else. It requires the courage to accept things as they are and that we slow down to appreciate things as they are. There’s another Japanese concept called kintsigu, which is about recognizing, accepting and drawing near to you the beauty of what is broken. Instead of discarding what is broken, kintsigu asks us to slow down and take the time to repair the object with “golden thread.”
We can learn a lot about beauty from both wabi sabi and kintsigu. Both speak to bringing near and radically accepting and being inclusive of those parts of ourself that we have marginalized, ostracized or banished to the wastelands. Both philosophies speak to radical self-compassion, deep caring, deep knowing and extreme kindness. Also, I just love the idea of fixing something with golden thread. Gold has so many beautiful connotations, including light, strength and treasure.
Particularly with kintsigu, broken objects are elevated by the use of gold to bind them together, resulting in more beauty than the object could have possessed before the break. It is a reminder that it is the breaks, cracks, holes and chips that make us unique and truly beautiful. It calls to mind a Hasidic saying in the Jewish tradition: “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.” Those of us existing in the world today can learn a lot from these centuries-old ideas about finding beauty in so-called imperfections.
Here in Western culture, we haven’t delved below the epidermis; we haven’t peeked inside, behind the veil. And that’s why there is the breakdown, the decay of the integrated self; because the foundation, the underneath, the depth hasn’t been addressed, cultivated, loved, cared for, acknowledged, understood or seen in the way it needs to be seen. True beauty runs deep and it runs clean.The skin is our largest organ, yes; but our mind is our processor, and our spirit communicates with the invisible. So, how we nourish our mind, body and spirit needs to be intentional and mindful. Step by step, we need to infuse these three overlapping and interconnected circles with meaningful, intentional, nourishing, profound rituals and recipes to go deeper and achieve real, high-functioning, optimal, sustainable beauty. It’s an inside job. Inner beauty—beauty from the inside out—is all within. Slow Beauty will help you create your own definition of beauty.
Remember your beautiful body
More often than not, beauty routines focus on our face and neglect the needs of the rest of the body. This is why I’m such a big fan of spas. Spas have always focused on treating the mind, body and spirit. They generally put a special emphasis on calming the nervous system and creating a sense of wholeness for the entire being.All too often, we jump out of bed and rush absentmindedly through our morning routine, then dash out the door and into our day, completely taking our body for granted. My yummy recipes (like the one here) are designed to create more space and time for intentional body rituals, such as daily self-massage, exfoliation, soaks and misting—rituals that are meant to show us how to love our body just the way it is.
Grapefruit, Ginger and Grapeseed Oil Paste Winter Scrub
I love using grapeseed oil in the winter because it is a wonderful moisturizer for combatting that dry winter skin, and also contains powerful antioxidants, which are particularly important during this time of the year. The fresh ginger warms the muscles and tones the skin, while grapefruit essential oil uplifts the mood, reduces the appearance of cellulite, and detoxifies.
Use this scrub in the shower. First wet your entire body and then begin the exfoliation process, paying special attention to dry spots, such as your elbows and feet. For winter exfoliation, use deeper pressure as you exfoliate your skin to relieve muscle tension and stimulate circulation.
MAKES 12 OUNCES
1 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
12 to 15 drops grapefruit essential oil
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and ginger, then add the grapeseed oil and grapefruit essential oil. Continue to whisk until the ingredients are fully blended. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature. Use within seven days.
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