Russh Magazine’s Jess Blanch: A Letter To My 20-Year-Old Self
What I would tell my 20-year-old self about self care?
The real question is, would my 20-year-old self listen?
I was a strong-minded University student who lived almost exclusively on burgers, saw vodka cranberry as a ‘health-drink’ and ran a beauty routine that consisted of a 8-hours of club dancing followed by a long, hot shower. Plus, I thought I knew absolutely everything. I would never, ever want to take that ignorance away from me….
Both the charm and the curse of youth; is simply not knowing how good you have it.
Simone de Beauvoir, who was really the first feminist writer whose books I found the bookshelf at home said, “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman” and I’ve loved getting to know my mind and body so far.
I’ve learned good health is everything. I was born with a strong constitution (anyone from a doctor to iridologists will tell me this) so my evolution has been about learning not to take advantage of it. It’s the simple things that seem normal to everyone else; like drinking enough water, getting sleep and not indulging in excess or going overboard with exotic food in foreign locations.
I don’t believe in detox or diets. When my mind sees something as forbidden it wants it even more so nothing is contraband and I have found balance by giving into pleasure. I avoid supplements unless I am feeling run-down (then I load Bioceuticals Armaforce) and I try to be kind to my body by giving it the fuel it needs. I buy organic, sustainable or minimal intervention food where possible. However, I’m not obsessive; I just try to stick to the basics from my country upbringing. I’ve learnt we are all different and what health experts recommend doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. A lot of people I know can’t do dairy or gluten, where as I feel like I’m going to die without spaghetti for a week. We know ourselves better than any professional ever will, we just have to listen to our bodies.
While my body is far from perfect, I’m at peace with it. I cherish its cooperativeness and respect it for the pleasure it is able to give me. Coming of age in the ’90s, we were more conditioned to how our beauty could bring enjoyment to others rather than our own self-pleasure. I think this shift in embracing our sexuality is a triumph of our times but also one of the great physical gifts of ageing. Motherhood seemed to bless my body a super-strength, not to mention a mental toughness I was not expecting, but I am so thankful for.
My overriding beauty philosophy is simple: don’t mess with nature.
I’m wholeheartedly behind the natural skincare movement and if I have any beauty regrets it would simply be not always having access to such products when I was younger. I believe your outside shows what’s going on in the inside, so I try not to work on that first. I’m never fanatical and I still use some products that aren’t organic but its an ethos that drives what I regularly put on my face and body.
Every summer break over January, I give my hair and skin a holiday from products entirely and it’s amazing to see what salt water and rest can do in just a couple of weeks. Seeing the rejuvenation nature brings about when left unaided restores my faith in this approach.
Now in my thirties, I’ve reached an age where I no longer apologise for my opinions and I’m brave enough to say I don’t believe in Botox, injections, enhancements and the like. Personally, for me. I pass no judgement on others because we can never really put ourselves in their shoes but I hope as someone who works in the industry I can be an advocate for loving what you’ve been given.
My beauty icons today are women like writer Joan Didion and artist Georgia O’Keefe. Joan was frail and talked with her hands like a crazy woman and Georgia had deep lines from the Mexican sun but their accomplishments make them very beautiful in my eyes.
I find it fascinating in times of diversity and acceptance that Botox and surgery is on the rise with teenagers. My prediction is our next revolution will be one against superficiality and image obsession that seems to drive the world today… and you can expect me to be right behind it.
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My favourite beauty products are…..
Amariage by Givenchy – a fragrance I have worn since I was 13. Josh Rosebrook’s Active Enzyme Mask which feels like rolling around in vitamins. WelleCo’s The Super Elixir, which I stir in cold pressed juice when I am feeling busy and under-slept. Lip Jao – an all natural lip balm and relatively new discovery I can’t imagine being without. Eastern remedial therapy expert Fumi Yamamoto’s Zen Facial essential oils like Ezi-Breathe and No Worries which I won’t fly without. David Mallet’s hair serum – after a few years of wild hair I’ve recently cut it all off – and I need this to tame it. Rationale’s B3-T Superfluid SPF 50+ (this is not natural but I love the light glow it gives). Weleda’s organic body oils; Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil; CILK Rose Water Extract to droplet into water if you are like me and find H20 in the still form too boring; Orchard Street Immunity Iced Matcha lattes and Doterra peppermint beadlets for fresh breath.
Words of advice (to myself)…
Listen when your Mum tells you to get out of the sun, you will have freckles to prove this. Brush, but also seriously, you’ve got to floss not just a couple of times a week, but once a day. Never judge anyone on their appearance; it’s impossible to know what their life is like. Approach fragrance as you would falling in love: not too many in one lifetime. Use natural oils when you are still wet just out of the shower. Find something that makes you sweat and call it exercise. Until you really have to wear a bra, don’t. Same goes for colouring your hair, only when necessary. Drink green juice so you can eat steak and frites for dinner. Work on your mind, let your body follow. Make friends with your doctor. Know that spending all your money on self-care is not true self-care. And, always, always be grateful for what you’ve got.
– Jess Blanch, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, RUSSH