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What Do We Put on Our Skin?

Street Art, Cosmetics and Pregnancy; All topics I have experienced and talked about, but never at the same time… usually.

In 2013 there was a great deal of discussion in the media about the use of skin care products whilst pregnant. The RCOG released guidance on this suggesting that although they did not have any clear research as to what the risks are they felt it wise to recommend that pregnant women limited use of skin care products during pregnancy.

This raised many questions. Whether the recommendation was necessary, if it was underplayed or overplayed and what is actually known/reported about the ingredients of cosmetics. For me personally it raised the issue that regardless of pregnancy, I should be aware of what am I putting on my skin everyday!

I’m a life long user of skin care products, from baby lotion as an infant, moisturisers and bath products through childhood and then makeup and other skin care products as a teenager and adult.  I realised that with or without clear research, perhaps we should be paying more attention to what chemicals we are exposing ourselves to.

I decided that I wanted to raise this question ‘ what are we putting on our skin?’ through my art. And the way I chose to do this? By using these products as my paint, and creating an image from these as a piece of filmed street art.

This short film captures my art in progress, the finished piece, and the interest that the concept gained whilst I painted on the street.

The music I chose was really important. The striking female voice of Charlotte Eriksson and her beautiful song “Letdown” worked wonderfully in my opinion. The lyrics capturing other messages about how we look and what we do to attain that.

Since doing this street Art  I continued to question and change what I put on my skin, but it’s a work in progress! I’ve changed my shower gel to a homemade scrub of olive oil, sea salt and essential oil, which feels amazing on my skin and smells great.

I’ve changed my deodorant to a salt stick which works just as well as any roll on I’ve used previously.

– When buying my shampoo and conditioner I now pay close attention to and try to buy products without SLS or similar foaming agents which always dried my hands and scalp.

– My children use a lovely bath range from a nationwide chain which only include essential oils and other gentle ingredients that don’t irritate their skin.

– I no longer use self tanning products – so as a redhead I will try to embrace my natural paleness come the summer! But don’t hold me to that!

As far as cosmetics go I have until recently still using these. But since March 20th I decided to go Makeup free for a month. I am blogging about it on my website to see how my skin feels, but also to see how I feel psychologically without wearing it. I’ve read other blogs where women have done this, and I’ve read many views on makeup. From discussions on the chemical components, the oppression of women, the capitalisation of beauty but also the power, confidence and artistic elements that so many women use cosmetics for.

To see how I am doing at being makeup free for the first time in my adult life, check out my blog susanmerrick.co.uk/blog.

painting and video © Susan Merrick

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Susan grew up with a passion for drawing and painting, a passion that was reignited during her first pregnancy in 2008. Inspired by strong women in her art and self taught, Susan has continued to develop her style using a wide range of materials and canvas. Susan has created art for gifts, political humour, commissioned wall art, belly painting, and more recently illustration. Her art has been exhibited in Putney, Aldershot, and Cranleigh and she has had illustrations published in the form of children’s books, What A Lovely Sound! By Starr Meneely and Blue Jeans by Veronika Sophia Robinson. Currently Susan is working as a Sign Language Interpreter 2 days a week, and balancing being a Birth Doula and Artist around her role as a mother of two. She lives with her husband and children in Hampshire, UK and always learning from her children, she endeavours to improve her patience and skills in gentle parenting! For more information about Susan or to see more of her gallery visit her website susanmerrick.co.uk or check out her posts and albums on Facebook.com/SBMArtwork and twitter@smdoula

 

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10 Ways to Help Your Daughter Honour Her Body

We are with our bodies from the moment of our miraculous conception to the moment of our final breath.  How we treat them influences how we feel about ourselves, and thus, how we experience the world.  What more impactful gift could we offer our beloved daughters than to guide them into a loving and respectful lifelong relationship with their bodies?  Every day, through our words, actions, and example we can do just that.

Here are 10 suggestions to get us started:

  1. Respect her body cues around food. When she says she is hungry or full, respect the cues of her body, regardless of how much has or has not been eaten.  Offer her yummy, healthy foods, and model how eating is both pleasurable and nourishing.
  2. Support her Boundaries. Like us, children have their own intuition about what feels good and safe. When our daughters set a physical boundary, whether we understand their decision or not, offering our support communicates that her instincts are important, and that her body is her own.
  3. Accept her Feelings. Forcing her to smile for pictures when she is in a bad mood, banishing her to her room for displays of anger, or telling her to ‘stop crying’ when she is upset, sends the message that happiness is the only acceptable emotion.  We allow her to honor her body by giving space to all of her emotions, and guiding her in their healthy expression.
  4.  Protect her from the Media.  It is difficult to accept your body just as it is while flipping through fashion magazines offering “495 Ways to Get Pretty By Summer.”  Make a choice to not subject your daughter to ideals and images that will likely make her feel worse about herself, and ban fashion magazines from the home.
  5. Move Together.  Exercise is a celebration of the body.  While engaging in physical activity with your girl, focus on how great it feels to move and stretch, how invigorating it feels to breathe with fervor, and the calming affect exercise offers the mind.
  6. Dress for comfort.  Many girls today are restricted by their clothing and footwear.  Apparel that fits well and offers her body full range of movement with ease will allow her to honor her desires for activity.
  7. Teach her about her body.  It is empowering to know the anatomical names for all of your body parts, how they work, and how to care for them.  Let us offer this factual knowledge to our daughters without taboo.
  8. Embrace Female Body Functions. Menstruation and lactation are unique to women, and we honor our feminine temples by embracing and celebrating these distinctive experiences.  Share with your girl the magic of being a woman.
  9. Value Her Genetic Blueprint.  Our bodies are designed to survive and thrive. Our ancestors needed their unique body structure to complete the tasks of their time, and now, many generations later, she bares the proof.  Researching her ancestors together could be a powerful step in honoring the body she inherited.
  10. Honor Your Body.  Our daughters absorb how we regard our bodies, listen with vigor to comments made about others’ bodies, and dissect our behavior to determine what we value.  It is wise to take any body issues we may have seriously and address them, getting support if necessary.
©photo by AdrianaAkrap is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed is a 30-something writer, speech-language pathologist, and founder of The Mother-Daughter Nest.  A native Arkansan, she and her husband and their three fantastic children now call Athens, Georgia home.  Her life is dedicated to children- understanding them, loving them, guiding them, and most of all- learning from them.

 

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