Giselle La Pompe-Moore is a beauty writer and founder of Project Ajna where she offers one-to-one rediscovery: skin sessions, guiding you to find acceptance with your skin and appearance by shifting your mindset. Here she discusses how consciously altering your thought process when looking at your reflection can reset your whole outlook…
Picture the scene: You’re in front of the bathroom mirror, cleansed, spritzed and waiting for your serum to melt in. Then it begins. Before you’ve even had time to massage your moisturiser in, you’ve already found the trigger. The trigger can be anything from a newly-discovered blemish, line, or anything that you perceive to be a ‘flaw’. Whatever it is, it has the power to kickstart an entire conversation that spirals into the feeling that you’re not good enough.
We see thousands of images a day, many of which depict the unattainable beauty standards that are so valued in our society.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. There’s been so many times when I’ve felt that the mirror has become a battleground, where my inner critic is ready to wage war. The mirror feels like a microscope where we’re ready to analyse and dissect what’s reflected back to us. It’s the site where we compare what we see to the seemingly flawless skin that floods our social feeds. We see thousands of images a day, many of which depict the unattainable beauty standards that are so valued in our society. So it makes sense that when our reflection in the mirror doesn’t match up to this it can cause feelings of low-self worth.
We don’t really spend much time thinking about our skin. Yes, we think about its external value and how it’s this incredibly complex organ that acts as a barrier, regulating temperature and regenerating itself. But, it also enables us to touch and be touched and to experience the world around us. Our skin carries within it a deep history of meaning and emotion, it’s ultimately the physical embodiment of who we are.
I’ve worked my way through many areas of the beauty industry, from journalism to product development and I was always struck by this feeling that, when it comes to working on the relationship we have with our skin, the emphasis is always placed on the external. Don’t get me wrong, beauty most definitely sparks plenty of joy for me and the hours I clock up doing my everyday make-up bears witness to that. But, there’s definitely been times in my life where it’s quite literally been a case of finding hope in jar – I’ve hoped that the feelings I had about my appearance not being good enough could be fixed via the the latest buzzy ingredient or full coverage foundation.
I wanted to change the narrative by taking the power back and using the mirror as a tool for self-growth and reflection instead
We’re all used to booking an appointment with a facialist or doing a product haul in the beauty department when our skin is stressing us out, but where do you go when you want to heal the internal relationship? I wanted there to be a space for women to go to have those conversations, to share their skin stories and add an internal element to their beauty routines, to be able to go inwards in order to find peace with their skin. So, I decided to align my beauty experience with my spiritual practices that include meditation, reiki, rituals and tarot and started Project Ajna.
During the skin healing sessions I have with my clients, I noticed just how triggering the mirror had become. Whether they were working through skin conditions such as acne or dermatitis or were struggling to accept their physical appearance, the conversations they were having in front of the mirror were very similar. I wanted to change the narrative by taking the power back and using the mirror as a tool for self-growth and reflection instead. Here’s one of the ways you can do it:
When we look in the mirror, we rarely allow ourselves to be truly present. We often think about how we looked in the past and romanticise the times when our skin looked ‘better’. Then we skip ahead to the future, thinking about the tools and products that will help us in achieving our goal of looking ‘better’. But we don’t actually take a moment to really look at ourselves. We rarely equate the mirror as a place to do anything other than apply our beauty products or to go straight into fix-it-mode. A vital step in getting to a place of skin acceptance and neutrality, is to reduce the emotional charges that can happen in front of the mirror. To see beyond the physical and accept it for what it is right now, as hard as that might seem in the beginning.
Start by heading to your mirror and set a timer for five minutes (trust me, you’ll need the timer initially as it might feel uncomfortable and super self-help 101 at first). Put on your favourite chill playlist in the background, light some candles to soften the mood, especially if your bathroom lights are quite harsh. Then I want you to really gaze at your face (and body if it’s a full length mirror). Really look deeply at yourself and pay attention to the thoughts that come up as you do so. Look at these thoughts without judgement but with compassion.
If any harsh or unkind thoughts pop into your head, just keep repeating the affirmation, “I am enough” to yourself or any words that you’re most comfortable using. Try doing this at least a couple of times a week and notice how you feel when you become more familiar with what you see.
You’re not going to spring forward into self-love immediately if you’re not there yet, but the goal is to get to a place of peace and acceptance. A place where you’re not waiting for your skin to change, improve or look different before you can hit your goals, feel confident or live the life you want to be living right now. A place where you start to reject the idea that your self-worth resides anywhere other than within yourself, and sometimes we all need a little reminder of that.