Founder of a skincare range, Emiko Ray, shares her journey in understanding that beauty isn’t just skin deep.
From a very young age, I was conscious that I didn’t think or relate like other girls did. Turbulent primary school years were followed by anxiety and phobias in my teenage years. All of this led me to a pretty unhappy place. To compound the issue, my mother is Japanese, and although I totally love that, I was aware of the difference in my heritage and upbringing.
My instinctive response was to study and research to try to discover my identity and I have spent many years studying women and how we work, in an attempt to better understand myself. One of my light bulb moments came when I was recently diagnosed with ASD (Aspergers) in my 40s and came to understand how my brain works. This also explains the intense studying as that is a trait of the neuro-diverse brain: to try to bring order to chaos.
One large part of confusion for me was around how to behave, how to look, how to show up: the external appearance. Social settings were confusing. Image and what people wore seemed so loaded with nuance and I just wanted to do my own thing. Add to this a Christian perspective, where God too has a view on who I am and what is best for me, the whole thing becomes overwhelming and intense. And I wanted freedom.
One large part of confusion for me was around how to behave, how to look, how to show up: the external appearance.
Image and beauty is primarily a visual thing: beauty is claimed to be in the eye of the beholder. We can all be seen as beautiful to different people in different ways, but beauty is not only a visual thing. Philosopher Roger Scruton asserted that: “Beauty is an ultimate value—something compared to truth and goodness, one member of a trio of ultimate values which justify our rational inclinations.” Beauty, by this definition, has an indispensable part to play in shaping the human world but also there is an otherworldliness to beauty; one that transcends logic and passes into the supernatural.
I think it is strange then, that talking about beauty and trying to project beauty has so many negative connotations in our society. We are comfortable describing others as beautiful but less willing to accept that title for ourselves. Why is that? Well, there could be some biblical basis for this. Peter makes it clear that: "Your beauty shouldn’t come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self." 1 Peter 3:3-4.
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In my experience there is a lot of complexity around this word "beauty"; expectations, shame, jealousy, the media, upbringing, religious beliefs can all play a part. Perhaps this verse and others like it have given rise to an uncomfortableness with displaying outward beauty. But I think there is an important subtlety here that we have overlooked: what is inside us, will surely shine out and that can be beautiful.
The inner self is core to our identity – we are driven from our values and desires, out of the heart the mouth speaks. But by the same token, out of our heart we smile too. Out of our desire to be kind, we radiate kindness. Out of our eagerness to bless, we are a blessing. So your inner beauty will show. You won’t be able to stop it. I meet people all the time who have “smiley eyes”.
I think it is strange that talking about beauty and trying to project beauty has so many negative connotations in our society.
If we are to be true to ourselves, we should be unashamed in allowing our beauty to radiate out. And I would take this theme further; just as a smile is infectious - so too is beauty. I think beauty is contagious. People who talk about beautiful things, about all that which is lovely, pure, kind and glorious radiate those things too. We should do all we can to encourage beauty.
One way I have committed to this is to promote health and beauty. Our inner wellbeing is powerfully impacted by our physical wellbeing. This is of course a link to physical fitness, dietary health, gut health and skin health too. Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? So what you put onto your skin matters. And the good news is that we have been given everything we need to look after our bodies, including our skin, through nature – it is all there in creation (of course!). The pure, natural ingredients we can find in the world (especially from my mum’s home country Japan) are not only good for our skin, our health, our wellbeing, they can make us look and feel beautiful too: beauty that radiates from the outside in and the inside out.
So, as you reflect on beauty and your reflection of it, remember, like me, you are uniquely and wonderfully made. You are beautiful. Let it shine!
You can check out the full Emiko range of products here.