So, first of all, I've incorporated AM2DM into my morning routine. It's a millennial morning show--and I mean that in a not disparaging way. It confronts politics, intersectionality & identity, pop culture as a way to engage with & learn from your world. It's joyful, & it's honest.
They recently had another Buzzfeed staff ember, Essence Gant, on to talk about her piece on developing a Korean beauty-based skincare routine. I left the segment with a lot of questions. Are we just... being told to buy & use more products, when our skin is fine without them? (Turns out Krithika Varagur is also feeling this. Read her "The Skincare Con.") But also, I've been frustrated by my skin. It's so, so dry & so tired. Could this help? And if so, is there a way to do this with as low an impact as possible--for example, with only local, vegan, cruelty-free products? (I was offered some recommendations, including this PETA list. Random product plug: I'm really appreciating the Pacifica products.)
I ended up buying things & was simulatiously happy to settle into a new routine, curious to see what my skin would become, & disgusted by the plastic now lining my bathroom shelf. Because it's all consumption, & sometimes, I hate to pull that veil back & be reminded I'm as in the machine as everyone else.
So. "Is this really self care, or is this just a pathetic attempt for us to control something in our increasingly toxic & scary world that we live in?" asks Emilie of Stuff Mom Never Told You. Or, she argues, is this the industry "profiting off of our desire to #selfcare-it-up in a wildy antagonistic world"? Emilie & Bridget ask, "Is skincare feminism's new salve?" And is this about us, or about society's standards for us?
Maybe. And maybe it's capitalism expanding into even more ways to control the body. And maybe they aren't improving our skin. To Krithika's point, we were never necessarily doing skin care wrong. We were also never putting so much shit on our faces. So, let's not try to Paleo-diet this situation by comparing to other time periods.
But also, maybe this isn't about having good skin for others. And maybe that's deeply personal & we don't aren't benefiting ourselves by that level of critique.
Because here is what I feel each time I use that $20 eye cream--which is a budget eye cream, which I can't believe has entered my life. Audrey Lorde's most popular quotation remains perennial: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." In tenderly touching my face, I'm spending more time with my body than I ever did over the course of days before this routine. I'm learning that I love my face. That took touching it, examining it closely, noticing my pores, & being forced to take a tender touch. Because the tenderness spills over. I love myself, & I am filled back up--ready to fight another day, sure of the power & resiliency my body contains.
Is that only from skincare? No. But you find the moments you can. If making contact with your own skin, to force yourself back into your dying-and-renewing body, can be such a moment, then I will use it. I will be thankful for it. I will be filled back up, on my own terms, for myself, in the intersectional mess that is always also wrapped up in capitalism. I will be at peace with the mess, & we will wade through it together.
P.S. Need more inspiration? One of my favorite artists is Callie Garp of Fabulously Feminist, & she has an entire collection of radical self love things of beauty. Maybe there's good visible reminder in there to take the time to just touch your body, be tender, & love yourself before you put your body on the line again.