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

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.

Let’s Talk About Spirituality

I have always been a spiritual person, however the stresses of the pandemic, work, and life drove me be more in tune with my spirituality. 

It’s a common misconception that you have to be a religious person in order to be spiritual.  I think that there’s no single way to be a spiritual person and that spirituality is deeply personal. It’s in the moments when you are quiet, reflective, and intentional that you become your own teacher and guide. And it is in those moments that you commune with your own higher power and answers become clear. 

You may be asking, “How can one become more spiritual?” Below are several ways you can start living your best spiritual life.

By Helping Others

We are all here on earth to help each other. Help others whenever you can. Extend a helping hand, smile at people, open up your heart!

Journaling and Manifesting

This life should include self-love, compassion, self-gratitude, and appreciation. Think about the energy of desires, hopes, happiness, dreams, and feel-good intentions. Put these thoughts and wishes down in a journal or diary, and will them into existence!

Meditation

When I was younger I loved to mediate and would attend meditation classes with my mom every Sunday at the temple. Unfortunately meditation went out the door as life happens. Many years later I would try to meditate, but I could not stay focused. My mind was everywhere! Recently however, I was able to mediate again during the quarantine months, and even now my morning ritual includes mediation. So I thank the quarantine for this. Meditation and prayer helps us to stay centered. For beginners, I would advise you to set aside at least 5 minutes of your day to meditate with the specific intention of connecting to what’s really in your heart and just focus on your breathing.   

Learn to Forgive

Forgiveness is crucial for spiritual growth, whether it is forgiving yourself or someone else. Whether we realize it or not, we hold onto so much trauma and heartbreak from our past that it affects our present if we cannot learn to forgive and move on. Decide to forgive whatever and whoever it is that is holding you back. Only you hold the key and have the power to do so. 

Patience Takes Practice

Although I am into crystals and believe in their healing properties, you don’t need to go out and start a collection to become more spiritual. It’s more about taking advantage of the opportunities all around you. For instance, you’ve ordered a coffee at Starbucks and the barista gets your order wrong. Forgive them! Be patient. Things happen in life that we cannot control. These are just the little ways you can commit to being more patient.  These small steps everyday can lighten your spirit and create more inner peace. 

Focus on Gratitude

Life isn’t always fair and we are not all dealt with the same cards and that is just reality. Sometimes that guy in your math class who never attends class somehow manages to do better than you when you studied your ass off. It happens! Or there are some women who get pregnant so easily when others cannot. Life isn’t fair. But we can’t focus on just the unfairness. What we focus on is what we will manifest. Keep being bitter and things will and can only get worse. Focus on being grateful for all of the things that ARE going well in your life. 

Listen to Your Instincts

You have to learn to be in tune with your gut feeling sometimes to make informed and intuitive decisions. Our gut feeling is often always right. Sometimes you just get a feeling that you should stay away from someone! But most often times we ignore it and ask our brain to make that decision for us instead. Take opportunities and listen deeply to what is inside of you. 

Laugh Often

Laughing is one of life’s greatest medicine. Laughing carries an energy of joy, playfulness, and happiness. I’ve always noticed that the people who live a long life often laugh more and are happier. 

Eliminate Envy

Being envious is the worst thing you can do to yourself. However, if one had said they have never experienced envy they would not be human! Spirituality and selfishness do not go together. Work on being happy for others instead of envious of their success. 

Learn to Love Yourself

We are all living beings on this earth with different beliefs, personalities, and values. We have to first learn to love ourselves before we can love another. Forgive yourself sometimes, own your quirks, and love yourself a little more each day.

 

“Being on a spiritual path does not prevent you from facing the darkness,

but it teaches you how to use the darkness as a tool to grow.

– @Messages.from.beyond, Instagram  

 

The Ugly Truth – Why I Stopped Blogging/Getting Personal/ What I Was Going Through

Ever since I was a child I suffered from bad eczema. For those of you who are unaware of what eczema is, it a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed, itch, and causes skin to have rough patches, become cracked, and blistering ooze can also occur. 

Over the years my mom spent countless dollars and hours to send me to the best dermatologists money could buy to try and cure my eczema. After many tears shed, a round of shots, and steroid creams I was finally cured after ten years! (Well, we thought!)

As the years went on I  was able to live life normally again. No longer did I have to make up a silly excuse time after time to friends that I couldn’t attend a beach outing or hide my skin in the summer under big loose sweatshirts and sweatpants! Those days were gone, and I never wanted to look back. EVER.

I’ve always been the type of girl who saw things through rose colored glasses, however sometimes in life we are faced with different challenges and have to go through things that crush your spirit and break your heart. Unfortunately I went through just that this past year, and what followed me during the dark times? That’s right: several major cases of hives, along with the return of eczema. 

As if dealing with personal matters weren’t bad enough, talk about adding salt to the wound! After months of crying and feeling hopeless and heartbroken I decided that I can no longer allow myself to become depressed about anything in my life anymore and this was one of them. It was time to see a dermatologist and allergist and hope for the best. It turned out that my diet and stress/trauma was causing my hives and eczema to flare up. I was given a big list of foods that I should avoid, and that list consists of gluten, dairy, wheat, eggs, and citrus fruits. For those of you who know me in real life, you know that I absolutely love and eat each of those items on a daily basis and would never follow those rules lol! 

Even after coming back from the derm and getting my pills, shots, and steroid creams, I know that I will never be fully cured and the harsh reality was if I didn’t change my mind set and diet I am going to go downhill again. This is a battle that I will constantly have but now it is time to fight. And I think after everything that I have gone through over these past few months, it’s time I start learning to love and find myself all over again.

Although healing is a process that will take time, I’m happy to report that I am in a much better head space these days and can finally start to blog again. I still have my sad moments and memories, but I am hopeful for the sunshine at the end of the rainbow. 

bdayme(1)

This picture was taken on my trip to beautiful Lake Arrow Head to celebrate my birthday Pre-Covid-19 Scare/Quarantine. Just thankful that I was able to celebrate. (Pisces baby!) 

I’m not perfect with my new eczema diet yet, and I still slip up and eat things I know I shouldn’t, but that’s OK. My life is a work in progress, and I’m just happy to be in the right mindset to be able to accept the things that aren’t perfect. We can’t control somethings that happen to us in life, but I can continue to work on my life and myself and that is all that I can do really. 

Xoxo