"the large majority of beauty standards are about oppression and power, and we are participating in our own oppression by adhering to the standards without question"
Q & A with Jessica DeFino, beauty reporter and author of "The Unpublishable" newsletter
Exciting stuff - weightless was recently featured in theSkimm! If you are new here and found me through the feature, welcome! My name is Julie, and this month marks two years (!!!!) since entering residential eating disorder treatment for anorexia. In this newsletter, I write essays about my eating disorder, body image struggles, the journey of recovery, and mental health in general. I also interview experts and providers in the ED recovery field, as well as other incredible, smart people who are changing the way we think about our bodies. I also feature guest essays from other people in eating disorder recovery (if you’re ever interested in sharing an essay, email me firstname.lastname@example.org).
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speaking of incredible, smart people who are changing the way we think about our bodies…
I recently interviewed beauty report and author of the newsletter The Unpublishable, Jessica DeFino. In the Q & A below, we talk about the parallels between beauty culture and diet culture, the forces that create and reinforce beauty standards, and why “slugging” is actually the worst. Jessica’s work and words speak for themselves, so let’s get right to it:
JG: Thank you so much for doing this! Can you tell me who you are, what you do, and a little bit about your own newsletter?
Jessica DeFino: I'm a reporter in the beauty industry. I like to describe myself as a pro-skin, anti-product reporter, which basically just means anything I write is coming from the perspective of skin-health first and whole-person first, rather than a product tie-in or what do you need to buy in order to make your skin or body do this particular thing. My newsletter is The Unpublishable, I describe it as what the beauty industry won't tell you from a reporter on a mission to reform it. And it basically was born out of my frustration as a reporter of trying to get important stories told in the beauty industry and being turned down by editors all the time because a topic was too controversial, or wouldn't play well with advertisers, or didn't have a product tie-in to get affiliate sales. And there were just so many little caveats in the industry, like content had to have these certain things and had to not offend advertisers or brands or PR relationships, and that really was limiting to the stories that I could tell and the information that I could get out there. So I started the newsletter.
JG: It is one of my favorite newsletters. It’s so good. One of your taglines is “skincare culture is just dewy culture.” Can you talk about what you mean by that?
JD: Sure, I think people are pretty familiar with diet culture and what it is after the past 5 to 10 years, with the body positivity movement and the work being done by fat activists. And I find that's a really good framework for explaining skincare culture, as well. In the same way that diet culture is not about health — it's just about making your body look a certain way to conform to cultural appearance ideals — that's what skincare culture is. Nothing we're really taught by beauty media or beauty culture has anything to do with the actual health of the skin and everything to do with making it conform to a certain standard that somebody, somewhere, made up one day, like: clear skin, skin that looks like glass, skin that never has a breakout or an allergic reaction or a rash. That's not how human skin is supposed to behave. And in trying to eliminate those communications from your body and make your skin look as inhuman as possible. First of all, “glass skin” or “donut skin,” that is the definition of self-objectification. We're trying to turn ourselves into an object, rather than embracing our humanity. And just like diet culture, when you indulge too much in topical skincare and trying to make your skin look a certain way, you actually degrade its health, you actually overwrite your skin's inherent functions to self-cleanse, self-moisturize, self-exfoliate, self-heal, self-protect, so you're actually damaging your skin's health in order to make it look this certain way, which I think has a lot of overlap with diet culture.
JG: Oh, yeah, for sure. Dieting or engaging in disordered eating behaviors can have serious physical impacts on your body over time and degrade the function of your metabolism, nervous system, etc. (Julie’s editing note: to learn more about this, read Sick Enough by Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani). To me, diet culture and beauty culture kind of stem from the same societal ideals: thinness, whiteness, high socioeconomic status. What is your interpretation of where this all comes from and why is it so problematic?
JD: I did a lot of research on the anthropology of beauty standards and where this stuff all started and where it all stemmed from. From my research, I have identified beauty culture stemming from four main forces: patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism and capitalism. Basically, any standard that you can point out stems from one or two or all of those, which is very similar to Western culture in general. A lot of our ideals across the political spectrum, the education system, the health care system, diet culture, they all stem from those four tenets. And then from there is where you see things like classism, colorism, ageism, sexism, ableism, the gender binary, those all stem from there, too. So beauty standards come from those forces. I like to describe them as not separate from classism or colorism or sexism, they are those things distilled into physical form. Beauty standards are how those things are dispersed throughout society. Beauty standards are how white supremacy is dispersed throughout society. It is how sexism is dispersed throughout society. So these things aren't separate. And sometimes I feel like, “ugh, am I making too big of a deal out of beauty standards by comparing it to white supremacy?” But the more I research, no, it's not wrong to conflate those two, because the two are the same thing. Beauty standards are just one way of communicating white supremacy.
JG: Can you give me an example of a beauty ideal or standard we have that can be traced back to those things?
JD: I think the easiest way to communicate the link between white supremacy and beauty is to look at the foundation shade ranges at Sephora or Ulta, or any beauty brand. There's a very clear standard. In a 40-shade lineup, there will usually be 25 for lighter skin tones. And then the whole spectrum of brown and black skin gets shoved into 10-15 shades. That's a very easy, visual way to see that. I also have to use the example of tanning as a really easy visual to represent classism and beauty standards. So for a really long time, for much of history, it was desirable to have really white, pale skin because workers, the lower-class people and slaves were outside working, and they would get tanned by the sun. So having darker skin was a class marker. It basically showed you were of a lower caste, a lower class, you were outside laboring. And the wealthy people were indoors, protected from the sun and didn't have to do that type of labor. So pale skin became the ideal. And you can see that everywhere from the ancient Egyptians to Europe in the 17th century, women were powdering their faces with white powder to look as pale as possible. You see that shift after the Industrial Revolution, when that class dynamic really changed and workers were inside factories. And so the lower class people were inside. They weren't tan, they were pale. And the wealthy were now the leisure class, they had the money to go on vacation to leisure about outside to be on boats, Coco Chanel was kind of the first person to make the “tan” very fashionable. Now, it's very chic to have tan skin and pale skin is almost not desirable anymore. And that's a class marker. And I think that's such a great example because we see the beauty standards shift over time. So it's a great example because these things are not ingrained and human. They're not biological, it's not just humans by default love a tan. It really shows how social structures influence what we find beautiful and why.
JG: What is the impact on individuals who absorb these standards and ideals? Whether that's skincare, beauty or diet culture standards, what impact does that have on a person?
JD: It's always messaged to us that if we adhere to these standards, you're going to feel more beautiful, you're going to feel confident, you're going to have self esteem, but the data tells us a much different story. Beauty culture is associated with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, facial dysmorphia, eating disorders, self harm, even suicide. So the impact on our mental health is huge. Personally, I think a lot of that stems from this all-encompassing focus on the physical form, when that's just a fraction of what we are as human beings. So on a spiritual level, I think it's traumatic to be flattened to this one physical dimension that you really have very little control over and that's how your value is judged in society. That is like a spiritually traumatic thing to be like, “wait, no, I'm this whole dynamic soul. And I'm full of love and beauty. And the world that I'm currently inhabiting is judging me based on this small portion of what I am.”
JG: The control piece is so fascinating to me, because my own eating disorder came from a need for control. I tried to find control in my life by trying to control my body. And recovery has been a lesson in relinquishing that control and understanding that I can't control how my whole body looks all the time. I think that's really hard for people to grapple with. You can use all of these beauty or skincare products, you can do all of these diets or workouts, but it doesn't mean that any of it is going to make you look exactly like the person who influenced you to buy or do them.
JD: Exactly. And even if you do end up looking that way, say you opt for surgery and injectables, which will change what you look like. That doesn't actually change how you feel. Studies show that the more procedures you get, the more “flaws” you find and fixate on. You've given your brain this message, “oh, look, you did fix this one thing. So it is possible to continue ‘fixing,’ to continue changing yourself.” And it doesn't actually bring anyone any closer to happiness, freedom, self worth, or any of the things that we're actually chasing. So even if you can control your physical self to some element, the spiritual thing that we're chasing underneath it is not built into this dimension, you know?
JG: Yeah, that's so true. You touched on this a little bit in the beginning, but beyond the mental impact, there are some very real physical impacts that happen when you are using all of these different products that are sold to us. Can you explain what those physical impacts of using all these products all the time are?
JD: Oh, there's so much. So basically, skin health starts with a healthy skin barrier and a healthy skin microbiome. And your skin barrier is like .002 millimeters thick, it's thinner than a sheet of paper. It’s very thin. Every product you put on your face basically wears away at that barrier, and then compromises your skin's ability to take care of itself and protect itself. So you end up “needing” more products to just keep your skin baseline healthy and protected. Your skin stops producing oil [on its own] or it'll produce too much oil. It'll stop self-exfoliating and rely on you manually doing it because you've set that expectation. It's more sensitive, it becomes more prone to sun damage and pollution damage, all sorts of environmental damage. And actually, what has been messaged to us as signs of “aging” — wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, sagging — about 85% of it is actually signs of exposure. So when you are layering all these products on, even as our anti-aging products, they're actually increasing your exposure to the elements and increasing your likelihood of having those signs of aging and also inflammation or increasing your inflammation. So that's acne, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis, all of that stems from a compromised barrier, compromised microbiome and too much exposure, all of which are happening largely at the hands of skincare products.
JG: Woah. What is your recommended skincare routine then?
JD: Everyone is going to be different. Because we are all people with different needs. The thing that I recommend is getting to know your skin. Most people have no idea how their skin actually works, and what issues are inherent to their skin and what issues are caused by products. So I recommend everybody do at least two weeks to a month of a total skin “de-stressing.” You use absolutely nothing or as close to nothing as you can possibly get. And it might be a little rough in the beginning as your skin re-regulates and relearns how to communicate with its environment. And with all of the parts within the skin to self-cleanse self-exfoliate, self-moisturize, all of that. So as it deregulates it might be rough, but I've talked hundreds and hundreds of people through this process, and usually within two weeks to a month, which is a full skin cycle; your skin takes 28 days to cycle through from the beginning of the skin cell to when it exfoliates naturally. Usually within that time period, your skin will be clearer and calmer than you have ever experienced since you started using product during puberty. And from there, you can say “what does my skin need?” Maybe your skin is really good at producing oil and you don't need a moisturizer. And maybe you need to just cleanse at night, and that's it and your skin re-moisturizes really well, maybe you're noticing you still have some acne or some eczema. And that might point to the fact that your inflammation is stemming from a food intolerance. Because now you know it's not from your product. So yeah, my number one tip is just get rid of everything, see where you're at, and go from there. And then when you're choosing products, choose products that support your skin's inherent functions instead of override them. You might not need to manually exfoliate and take away that job from your skin. But if you are doing daily facial massage, for example, that increases blood flow and circulation to your face, which supports your skin cells getting the nutrients they need, in order to start that self exfoliation process. So there's exfoliation with no product at all.
JG: I knew that diet culture and beauty culture are inherently linked, but in this conversation, I keep thinking about how we are constantly told in all these different ways that our bodies are not smart and that we should take control and prevent them from just…being. But really, our bodies know what to do. And we just need to give them the space and the ability to do that work for you. Take Intuitive Eating, for example: your body knows when it's hungry and knows when it's full, it knows what vitamins and minerals it needs and that’s why you sometimes crave certain foods. Our bodies are smart.
JD: Yes, that's exactly it. And Intuitive Eating is skincare as well, because your skin is built from the inside out, from the nutrients that you get from your diet. That is the only way skin cells get built. The only way your body gets the materials is through what you eat, what you consume. And your cravings, like you said, will lead you there. For example, in order for the body to produce collagen, it needs protein and Vitamin C. In order for the body to produce hyaluronic acid, it needs phytoestrogens and magnesium. It's always so silly to me that we attempt to force these ingredients into our pores — which will not accept ingredients like that — when you can eat a baseline regular diet and your skin gets all the nutrients it needs to create these compounds on its own.
JG: Yeah, it's bonkers to me that we are being sold things we create automatically.
JD: Yes. That is extractive capitalism. If you want an example of how capitalism creates beauty standards, there you go. We produce all of these compounds, we produce ceramides, peptides, collagen, hyaluronic acid, probiotics, prebiotics, all of it. We produce those things and then our resources are harvested by the industry, put into a bottle and sold back to us.
JG: So often we’re told to think critically and be mindful about the things we consume and the things that we ingest. But I don't think we always get the tools or told how to think critically. It’s particularly difficult in the world of social media, where every influencer “just like us” is selling us a product or telling us to do something. So, what is your advice?"
JD: It's really tough. I would say the first thing to do is just consider the source. Who is telling you this? And what financial motives do they have? Are they a brand owner? Are they an influencer who's selling you a product? Are they an esthetician who needs you in their chair? These things will all influence what someone believes. And I think it's important to note here, too, I'm not saying any of these people have nefarious motives. They're not trying to get you. This is what they believe is necessary for healthy skin most of the time, because it's what they've been taught and through confirmation bias and conflict of interest. We have a ton of psychology that shows us that, say, me as a journalist were to accept a gift from a brand and then write an article about it. I can say in my conscious mind, “oh, this didn't influence my opinion at all.” But we have tons of psychology and research to show that subconsciously it does. And so that's why in journalism those kinds of things are not allowed, because it does influence your opinion, whether you realize it or not. So, a lot of the people that we are trusting to give us unbiased information about our skin health are completely biased. So just consider where the information is coming from and where did they learn the information. Most of this skin science is not real science, it is product science. Most of the skin science on Instagram and TikTok is funneled down through brands, through marketing campaigns, even through dermatologists. We have to look at dermatology the same way that we look at doctors who are trained medical professionals and are using BMI or weight as a marker of health. Those things aren't health markers, they are appearance ideals that got absorbed into health care. That is the same exact thing that happens with skin and dermatologists. Dermatologists are often pushing appearance ideals through these medications and prescriptions. They’ll say, “here's how we can make your skin look this certain way, with this ingredient or this pill,” without asking, “should the skin look a certain way?” These health care providers are maybe well intentioned, but the industry and the field of dermatology is built on beauty standards first, rather than health first.
JG: Generally speaking, we trust doctors to know what's best for us. But it’s kind of shocking to learn how much health care information is clouded by arbitrary beauty and body size standards. And that can really impact the quality of your care. It’s kind of a mind fuck.
JD: Yeah, it's such a mind fuck. And I always want to put a caveat here: visit your dermatologist yearly for your skin cancer screening. Skin cancer is an actual illness and a sickness that you need to screen for. But most of the time, with our daily skincare, we're pathologizing things that are not problems. They are communication; they are natural consequences of our lifestyles. The skin is supposed to have a pimple when something is imbalanced inside. The point is not to erase the pimple entirely. The point is listen to your body and your skin and ask, “Hmm, what’s imbalanced? And where is this having an effect on me elsewhere?” Because usually, by the time a symptom reaches your skin, it's affecting you somewhere else as well. For example, all sorts of gut disorders have skin components. So Celiac disease will have a gluten intolerance in the skin as well sometimes. Leaky gut syndrome also affects this skin barrier, and dermatologists are now calling it “leaky skin.” So by the time it reaches your face, it's probably affecting your wellbeing and how good you feel in your body day to day elsewhere. So it really benefits you to look at root cause rather than “I have to get rid of this pimple entirely.”
JG: I think that's a good reminder that your health is holistic. And just because you have glowing skin, that does not mean that you are healthy, or vice versa, if you have imperfections on your face, that does not mean you are unhealthy. So I think that's a very good personal reminder, at least.
JD: I always say my skin is far from perfect. I put it through the wringer for years, especially with topical steroids, which really affected how my skin functions and what it can do. So I still break out from time to time. My skin doesn't like naturally produce enough oil on its own because I was on Accutane for a long time, which damages your sebaceous glands. So you wouldn't necessarily look at my skin and be like, “Oh, that's healthy skin.” But I say my skin is healthy because it communicates with me. It is giving me all of this information about what's happening. Not only in my body, but in in my mind; stress is a huge trigger for skin issues. So it's healthy if it's communicating with you, because the skin's job is to communicate with you. And when you take that away, for instance, if your skin looks like glass from your products, that's not healthy skin. That's a sign of inflammation. Skin is not supposed to look like that. We have glamorized injury as a beauty standard.
JG: I mean, that shows up in so many different ways. Idealized appearances are linked to unhealthy behaviors or patterns or illnesses all the time.
JD: That's a perfect diet culture parallel. We glamorized what an eating disorder looked like in the ‘90s. Those models were not healthy, but that became the standard of beauty. It's the exact same with shiny, tight, glowing skin. That's not actually functioning skin. That's a glamorized health issue.
JG: We fear aging — or rather, the appearance of aging — as a society. Why do you think that is? Why do you think we are so afraid of having fine lines and wrinkles?
JD: On just the most basic level, it is a fear of death. It's a fear of being faced with our own mortality, that we are temporary beings here on this earth and our time here is coming to a close. But there's also a lot of cultural elements to it. For instance, especially in America, we do not treat our elderly population with any sort of respect or care. The longer we're alive, the lower the quality of our final years are. There's a crisis of elder care in America. How can we look forward to aging and embrace aging when we see every day in the media, our families and our communities how older people are treated? Of course that's scary to us, especially as women. Not to be binary about it, but the beauty industry was built on the binary. It was made to create these very specific divisions between men and women. So sometimes it's necessary to talk in binary terms when you're critiquing the beauty industry. But men are allowed to grow older and age and become “silver foxes” and they look so handsome when they're older. And women are taught, “Okay, shut up. You're done. Your career is over. We don't want to see you anymore.” Of course we reject that and want to look younger. So we look to skincare, injectables and surgery to do that. It’s important to keep in mind here that we're attempting to treat a structural issue with individual aesthetic manipulation. Changing what your wrinkles look like with Botox is not going to change how women are treated, it is not going to change the crisis of elder care, it is not going to change the fact that you are going to die someday. So we're just trying to soothe and address all of these deeper societal structural issues with individual aesthetic action, and it doesn't help anyone and no one feels better for it.
JG: And again, I see the parallels so clearly. We are collectively afraid of weight gain because the way we treat fat people in America is so awful.
JD: And conversely, the way that we treat thin people is so amazing. Like you hear that all the time from people, “When I lost weight, people finally treated me like a human.” Or, “When I got Botox, everyone suddenly commented on how amazing, well-rested and young I looked.” The positive reinforcement can sometimes be just as harmful as the negative reinforcement. And that's something that we can all work on, because I'm sure all of us have complimented someone we know who has lost five pounds and said they look great. Or if they put on a new lipstick, we're like, “Wow, you look amazing today.” Not that we shouldn't compliment the people in our lives, but we should be cognizant of what we are reinforcing when we say those things.
JG: Yeah, that's such a good way to frame it. You touched on how we're trying to solve societal problems as individuals, which is so hard and it feels nearly impossible. But what are some ways that we can fight against these standards? How does an individual reduce the harm that beauty and diet culture cause?
JD: Oh, it's so complicated, and nuanced. And it oftentimes feels impossible. So I love to preface this conversation by saying yes, it feels impossible, but so is adhering to the current standard of beauty. If you're wasting your time and money trying to do something, it might as well be divesting from beauty culture, because we already know you are never going to achieve this impossible, unrealistic ideal of beauty. So when handed with a really difficult decision, I always say put your effort into divesting from beauty culture. And that can start with just your individual actions of deciding not to adhere to certain beauty standards anymore when you realize they are no longer serving you. To illustrate how that actually can have an impact, I like to compare beauty culture to an MLM, or multi-level marketing firm. So basically, beauty standards are distributed by the top tier, we'll call that capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, all of that. They're distributed and they go to the next tier, which is celebrities and cultural figures who distribute them to beauty brands, who distribute them to you. And we, in that bottom tier, distribute them — just like an MLM — to the people within our cultural spheres of influence. I think injectables and Botox are a great way to think of this. When we see celebrities looking a certain way and getting Botox, that doesn't necessarily put too much pressure on us because we still see ourselves as not being a celebrity. The pressure isn't there to look like a celebrity because you aren’t one. But when your best friend is getting Botox now and your mom is getting lip injections and your little sister is 10 years younger than you and she's like, “Oh my god, I look so old. I'm gonna go get baby Botox at the dermatologist.” Suddenly that pressure is compounded because it's now infiltrated your tier, you know? So divesting from beauty standards similarly has that same impact on your tier and can reverberate outward. Beauty culture can't survive if the culture rejects it, and we are the culture. We do have that power. Brands can't sell stuff to people who aren't buying it. You do have an impact. Your actions matter. Your individual divestment will have a ripple. It might just be smaller. And then the other thing I like to say is: your triggers can point you toward your truth. So you can take the individual things that really affect you, and sort of extrapolate out from there and figure out what community action or collective actions to get involved in. Let's say you're really passionate about SPF, you've been really mindful about applying SPF because your skin is sensitive and you know sun exposure is bad for the skin and it ages you. Well, what are the ways that you can contribute in that area? What are some environmental action funds that you can get involved in? What are some organizations you can get involved in around climate change? Because that's what that is, and that will help in some small way. Or maybe your thing is tanning, so now you might want to get involved in reversing that beauty standard. That could mean you get involved in racial justice or social justice action. We can't do everything, but everybody can do one thing. So whichever beauty standard really has a grip on you can point you towards the type of action that you can get involved in. And if everybody did that, I think beauty culture would be a lot healthier for all involved.
JG: Yeah, I love that. It also highlights that these issues of beauty and dieting, they're not frivolous, and they're not inconsequential. They are born out of and impacted by larger societal issues and. And then decisions within these beauty and diet industries can impact those other larger issues as well.
JD: It's so true. I mean, it's political. All of it is political. And even if you look at the origins of beauty standards, if you go back to ancient Egyptian times, the pharaohs had these two-hour-long mornings of beauty rituals that were performed by their slaves. Beauty has always been this oppressive force, this way to illustrate power. And that's where it stems from. Sometimes it can be fun, there are valid arguments for makeup as self expression, and basic grooming as self care and necessary for your health and functioning. But the large majority of beauty standards are about oppression and power, and we are participating in our own oppression by adhering to the standards without question. At the very least, it needs to be questioned. If you don't personally have the capacity or the resources to fight against it at the moment or take a stand against it, at the very least we need to be thinking and questioning.
JG: Shifting gears a little, what is your current least favorite beauty product or trend? JD: Okay, well I could talk about this forever. My least favorite trend is “slugging” and the products that go along with it, which are Vaseline or Aquaphor, basically petroleum jelly or mineral oil. Slugging is basically creating a faux barrier for your skin, which we wouldn't have to do if we didn't degrade our skin barriers on the daily with other beauty products. The worst thing to happen to human skin ever was the oil industry, the petroleum industry. The environmental pollution that it has caused is like responsible for most of the environmental damage on your skin. So to be using a product a direct byproduct of that environmental damage to heal your skin is so backwards. You're just financially supporting the industry that created the environmental pollution that is sabotaging your skin. It makes no sense.
JG: It’s all over TikTok right now. And there is this idea that Vaseline or Aquaphor is using “less” or going back to “basics.” And I think that is part of why it's so popular right now. It's like, look how easy and accessible it is because you can buy that shit everywhere.
JD: It asks us to challenge our ideas of what is easy and what is accessible. Because look at the widespread devastation caused by the petroleum industry and who is affected. Vaseline has been a skincare staple in the Black community for a really long time because it's accessible, it’s everywhere, and it creates this faux barrier. The boom of “slugging” and Vaseline is a really great example of how beauty standards are actually a microcosm of white supremacy and colonialism. A bunch of wealthy, white women influencers popularized what was a staple in the Black community, turned it into this huge trend, created a huge demand for petrochemicals from the petroleum industry, and the beauty community is financially supporting an industry that [disproportionately] harms Black communities, people of color, and poor communities. These are the people that experience the most environmental damage and the most air pollution in their communities. And not just in America, if you look globally, the global South is being impacted by climate change in a devastating way right now. And that is because of Big Oil, almost exclusively. So “slugging” is actually a really great illustration of how colonialism comes into play, where a white person takes a trend from a Black person, popularizes it, creates this huge demand, and the result of that demand actually harms the community that it came from. It is all just wild to me, when you sit back and you take an ecosystem approach to looking at things, rather than just caring about what your individual skin looks like, you realize how destructive this whole industry is.
JG: Is there anything that we didn’t touch on that you want to mention?
JD: It's important in the process of divesting and questioning beauty culture to be gentle on ourselves, and not feel like we need to never wear makeup again or never use skincare again. So many of these standards are rooted in oppression and they have caused anxiety and depression and have contributed to a lot of mental health issues. So divesting from them completely is not always safe for us in a mental health capacity, until we have started to deal with the underlying mental health issue. You can think of your beauty behaviors as security blankets, so be cognizant of the fact that they're actually Band-Aids for something deeper. But sometimes you do need a Band-Aid. Sometimes you do need a security blanket. My thing is my eyebrows. I have an anxiety disorder where I pick out my eyebrows, so I draw my eyebrows on with makeup every day. I adhere to that beauty standard because not adhering to it would mess with my mental health, and we will probably all have some version of that. My advice is just be gentle. Don't feel like you need to do everything all at once. And it's okay to keep some of your behaviors if you need that for now.
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