My Opinion About Skin Bleaching & Beauty Standards

As someone whose parents are ethnically Thai/Chinese, I come from a background where people are either extremely dark or extremely light in complexion. Just like other ethnicities, we all come in different shapes and shades. 

More recently, because it’s summer time, I can get extremely tan; whereas during the winter months, while my complexion isn’t milky white like my mother’s, I am much lighter. The other night I was looking at some Thai beauty products online in search of an herbal night cream that my mom loves for her upcoming birthday and came across multiple creams with the purpose of “skin lightening” and “skin bleaching.”

It was quite shocking to see the obsession with skin bleaching especially in the Asian community. Skin bleaching, if you’ve never heard of it before, is a process of lightening your complexion. Darker skinned people bleach their skin in attempt to be lighter. People do this for various reasons but the main reason is vanity. It’s a cosmetic procedure with no health benefits, and it’s primarily due to color-ism and in some cases classism.  

After doing some researching to become more informed about what is really in skin bleaching products, I found the two main active ingredients are hydroquinone and mercury. In 1982 the FDA approved hydroquinone for over-the-counter products. This was typically used for hyper-pigmentation, freckles, and dark spots. However, in 2006 the FDA revoked that approval because further testing on animals were found to cause harmful side effects included infertility and cancer. The other ingredient that is found in most skin bleaching products is mercury, which is more commonly found in African American targeted products. Mercury is commonly known to be very harmful, and these products are being made and sold illegally online, often untested. These products can come in the form of pills, soaps, and topical creams. Mercury poisoning is not a joke, you can get kidney failure, loss of brain function, fatigue and numbness. Physically the side effects can be blisters, skin ulcers, rash, and burning.  

How these two ingredients work is basically they attack the melanin in your skin. They stop the production of melanocyte cells. Typically the amount of melanocyte cells depends on genetics. Unfortunately I have known friends of the Asian and Black community who bleach their skin and they look rather gray. Having melanin in your skin has a lot of health benefits, one of them being your skin ages more slowly. Additionally, melanin provides the ability to dissipate UV Rays, meaning you are less susceptible to radiation poisoning from the sun. Of course everyone should still wear sunscreen! 

I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am proud that I have a lot of melanin in my body, however the downside of it is I scar extremely easily and scars appear more visible on people with more melanin. I think all skin shades are beautiful, and it does not define what makes someone appear more attractive whether they are darker or lighter. I know this topic may seem a bit controversial, but this is just my opinion. 

I hope we all can learn to love ourselves a bit more and the skin that we’re in. And I hope that with time there becomes more representation of beauty in all forms and not just what is considered to be the standard.

 

Xo

Some Ways to Practice Self-Care & Self-Love

With everything that is going on in the world right now, it’s extremely important that we take care of ourselves and practice ways to love ourselves even more. Here are some ways I try to practice self-care and self-love.

Better Sleeping Habits:

I’ve always been someone who doesn’t sleep well at all. Ever since I was a child I was a light sleeper. I wake up easily, and it is extremely hard for me to fall asleep. In the past I typically average about 4 hours of sleep a night (crazy, I know!). Everyone used to ask how I am able to function. I think we all require different amounts of sleep, and that amount changes as we grow up. As I’m not getting any younger, I now try to make sleep a priority. I make sure that I am getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep has a big role in your temperament and affects your mood and overall health and wellness.

Meditation:

Meditation contributes to self-care and self-love. The purpose of meditation is just to sit in your body and be in your body, feeling your breath, and even feeling the discomfort and pain. I’ve been having some discomfort in my knee, and to be able to just focus on my breathing helps me push through it. I just stop everything and just allow myself to be with myself. I know I’ve spoke about meditation multiple times, however there are many different types of meditation that I practice. Shower meditation, sleeping meditation, and crystal meditation. 

A Day Off from Everything to do Nothing:

Sometimes we get in our head that we have to always be productive and accomplish something otherwise the day is wasted. This is not the case, and having time to spend on doing nothing is good once in a while for healing. For me this means just sitting around, lounging, and doing nothing. In actuality you have to have a rest day to recharge and not clean the house, go to work, etc. 

Taking Better Care of My Skin:

Since I’ve still been trying to get my eczema under control, this means I am constantly making an effort to take better care of my skin. I have been trying to follow my eczema diet by not consuming dairy products, eggs, or gluten. It has been hard and 3 days out of the week I tend to slip up, but I am now consciously making more of an effort than I have ever done before. I avoid long hot showers and make sure to moisturize my skin right after I jump out of the shower (literally!). 

I’d love to hear what are some ways that you practice self-care and self-love? There are so many ways to practice self-care and self-love, these are just some of the simple ways that I practice mine. We really don’t realize the positive effects it can have on our lives by just doing some of these practical things.

Xoxo

Welcome to the Dark Side and the Importance of Shadow Work

Whether you’re trying to battle your inner-demons or have a dark shadow that seems to follow you wherever you go, the reality is we all have them. Some of us more than others. We all have a dark side somewhere deep inside of ourselves. 

If you let your “dark side”/”shadow” run wild your life can seem uncontrolled and chaotic. Classic shadow signs are anger, blame, and laziness, but it can also be expressed as insecurity, co-dependency, or even independence. These signs can manifest issues with mental health, addictions, negativity, and low self-worth; and left unchecked, these issues will begin to effect the overall quality of your life.

Disclaimer: The purpose here is to help and heal others.

Before delving further, I just wanted to include the disclaimer that I am not a mental health expert nor do I have a degree in psychology. I have read many books over the years to help me deal with some of the trauma that I have experienced in my life, and these books were on topics such as self-help, psychology, and spirituality. All of my readings have touched on the topic of dark sides, shadow work, and how it all goes together. I thought I would share more about what I have read and learned along the way so that I can help others who might be of need. 

The idea of “Shadow” was popularized and studied by Carl Jung who is a 20th Century psychologist from Switzerland. According to him, “Shadow” refers to the hidden parts of our being. These are parts of ourselves that we may try to repress because they make us feel sad or vulnerable. This is a side we often do not show others. It can also indicate how we internally perceive ourselves as “being weak,” therefore we feel the need to hide certain parts of ourselves. Jung believed in the acknowledging our full self, including the shadow side, so that we can live in a balanced way.

Learning How to Confront Your Shadow:

My shadow is the fear of being vulnerable. I often avoid certain situations whether it is in the past or present; knowing that a situation may cause me to be placed in a vulnerable position, I would do anything in my power to avoid it at all cost. I think a part of it has to do with my upbringing and how I was raised. Although I’m not placing any blame on anyone in my family or those who have raised me, I was always taught that I have to be “good” all the time and showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness. I’m thankful that I am aware of my shadows because knowing the struggles and battles we had to fight in order to succeed makes our victories all the more meaningful. As crazy as it may sound, the pain and suffering we see in the world around us are often mirrored by our internal pain and suffering. It is only in facing our difficulties that true change can be made, and the hope of peace can prevail, inside and out. 

Shadow work may seem counter-intuitive on the outside because you will have to face your pain instead of running away from it. The process works by allowing yourself to feel and understand the painful aspects of yourself, so they become fully integrated. I’ve learned that it takes courage, time, and an open heart to face your pain, but these tools learned along the way help in almost every other aspect of your life as well.

Shadow work is an introspective psychological practice that anyone can do and helps lead to a more fulfilling life. When working with your shadow, you may have a moment of spiritual awakening that lead to greater authenticity, creativity, and emotional freedom. 

Some of the benefits that I have noticed in some areas of my life included: improved relationships through understanding yourself and accepting others, overall enhanced state of well-being and mood, better communication with others, ability to set boundaries in every aspect of life, and cease the cycle of self-destruction. 

I wish that you all find your shadow and learn to work with it so we can all live a more balanced and more fulfilling life.  

Xoxo,

Tawny V

 

serene sunday

Serenity Sunday = Mediation Work

 

 

Transformation Tuesday

Good morning everyone and happy Tuesday!

This morning I woke up, made a delicious coconut and dragon-fruit smoothie after doing some meditation, and thought to myself what better way to start the day than to write down my thoughts before I head to work.

I know I have talked about toxic relationships in the past, however today I will be discussing about the toxic relationships we have with ourselves and the ones that I have had with myself. I don’t know of anyone that has a 100% healthy relationship with themselves, especially around my age. I think it’s because we’ve been trained and conditioned for so long not to. It’s very easy to fall into negative behaviors especially in how we talk to ourselves and what we think about ourselves. 

I definitely had a toxic relationship with myself. I notice that it is getting a lot better: I have so much more compassion and love for myself this year than last year. What I have noticed about myself was that I tend to hold a lot of guilt when it comes to everything. I constantly felt bad and feel everything. I have a lot of empathy for everything. For a long time I was holding those feelings in, and I would punish myself for some things that weren’t even a big deal. For instance, I would worry if I offended someone or feel guilty if I cancelled plans with someone when I felt tired or just didn’t feel up for it anymore. In the grand scheme of life it doesn’t matter, but I would hold on to that guilt and punish myself internally by sitting around and sulking in my guilt. My entire day would be ruined because of it.

Because this was a toxic trait that I recognized in myself, I forced myself to practice self- love, compassion, and grounding to remind myself of who I am and what I want. What really helped me was meditation. I know I spoke about it a few times already, but I have been able to maintain my emotional state right now. I know that meditation has helped me with cultivating and maintaining those positive emotions. Some of you have also said that I seem happier nowadays, and I could cry just thinking about the ways that I have changed my relationship with myself for the better. I’m not going to sit here and say that I am not hard on myself anymore because I still am, but now I am just more aware of it. The goal now is to correct that type of thinking, whereas before I was just on autopilot: going through the motions and unaware of my own role in the cycle. 

I have read a few great self-help books to get me through the tougher times last year. I can list and talk about some of them in another post if anyone is interested. These self-help books made me aware of how I saw and treated myself. I was beginning to see how others see themselves. Sometimes when I go to events, whether personal or for work, I sometimes feel others’ emotional energies and they’d drain me. I felt the need to protect myself and my energy because I was starting to see that it wasn’t coming from me but from those around me. I was just absorbing all of the negative energy, and I hated it. I found myself not wanting be around anyone anymore because I was afraid of their emotional and negative energy and the way it would affect me. That might sound selfish and might be selfish, but I cannot be of service to anyone if I am in need of help. I have been protecting my happiness and working hard on myself, and I am not going to risk undoing all the progress I’ve made. People who love me and support me will understand and see where I am coming from. 

There are many who will take advantage of kindhearted and happier spirits. When you have a positive aura, people will naturally gravitate towards you, even people who don’t have that same aura or intentions. They just want to take it for themselves and drain you. Most of the time they aren’t even aware of it. I feel I am a naturally kindhearted person inside, and if I sense someone is troubled I just want to help them anyway I can, even if it will hurt me in the end. I know that what it’s like to be in their shoes because I’ve been in that emotional state. I know what it feels like so I want to help people, but some people don’t want your help. I had to recognize and learn that the hard way. That brings me back to the question of “How can you help anyone when you yourself are so emotionally sensitive and fragile?” That is what I am working on, and I have come a long way but the journey goes on. 

I wish you all love and light. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and concerns. If anyone has any good book suggestions, whether it’s a novel or self-help book, please feel free to send me a message or comment!

Let us all continue to be self-aware and love ourselves a little more each day so that we can continue to love one another. 

XO,

Tawny V.