THE IRONY OF: “LOOK GOOD, FEEL BETTER”

(this post was originally featured  on Breast Cancer Action’s blog…check it out for more info about the shocking pinkwashing that happens every October!)

It’s fair to say I’ve taken the long route to becoming a skincare biz owner—because unlike most, I am a formulator and a manufacturer, not just a CEO. Thanks to two decades of experience, I know every ingredient and potentially hidden ingredient a vendor might be trying to slide by me.

I started my company out of a deep personal need to solve my own skin problems and health issues that had kept me sick, weak and covered in what looked a little like leprosy (seriously) for most of my childhood. Being bullied added another layer of hurt to how I already felt about my body, making me want to bury myself as far under my clothes as possible.

My primary motivator in starting my company was to share the cure I’d developed with others and help them find long-term freedom from skin issues of all kinds—to “Look Great and Feel Amazing”, you might say! So when I checked out “Look Good, Feel Better”, which purports to dole out compassion and support to breast cancer survivors—an issue close to my heart—I saw immediately that this site was entirely the American Cancer Society and the Personal Care Products Council pushing sponsored products on a vulnerable and unaware population.

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“Look Good, Feel Better” is an organization with more than 14,000 volunteers that offers groups for people struggling with cancer and a website filled with beauty tips. Their mission statement says, “improving the self-esteem and quality of life of people undergoing treatment for cancer”. However, the free kits they offer to survivors include tons of parabens, formaldehyde releasers and Teflon, just to name a few ingredients that have themselves been linked to cancer! These additives also irritate skin that’s already incredibly sensitive from treatment, placing people in jeopardy for an ongoing skin crisis.

I’m not one to mince words guys, and I am one to try like heck to get people to take their health into their own hands. I myself have been at the mercy of modern medicine and all-knowing physicians who are dictated to by insurance company, doctors who are no longer the medical detectives they used to be. Say, for example, you have an autoimmune disease—this is life-altering, but a “normal” doc will only do the one test the insurance company typically allows (this is true of many diseases). If you don’t test positive, your M.D. will not disclose that there are actually other tests that can give you the full picture. Only a naturopathic doctor or other alternative practitioner will actually work to get to the heart of what’s going on with your body.

Once you understand this, a whole world of “wow, I need to take my health into my own hands because no one else will” opens up. And think about it: never before have we had so much information at our fingertips. But who do we trust? We must become our own detectives in a world where anyone can create a slick website filled with medical advice, and our doctor’s knowledge might be outdated or a product of Big Pharma propaganda.

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Twenty years ago, I started formulating my products in my own kitchen and investigating the skincare and cosmetic industry. I was truly shocked at how despicable its practices are, so I made it my mission to share the “ugly truths” I had uncovered. Along the way, I found the group Breast Cancer Action—still a small grassroots organization not talked about on E! or in Vogue, etc. Why? Money, of course! I’ve spoken to editor upon editor, year after year, trying to get this organization in the press—but no can do. It’s all Susan G and the rest who are doing nada to truly educate us and teach us to help ourselves like BCAction.org.

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BCAction is so unique in their campaigns, like “Think Before You Pink”, which exposes all the devious ways that big corporations are making money from breast cancer. Where would these companies be without their “pinkwashed” products, of which they might give 1% of profits to a real charity?  Basically, all that pink is about making money from our empathy, not about actually curing breast cancer. It upsets me greatly, because I give 100% (or more) of proceeds for a whole month each year to BCAction and I’m proud to do it. Their advocacy makes such a difference in people’s lives. For example, in 2008 they got Yoplait to stop using rGBH treated dairy in their yogurt. And while they still aren’t perfect, it’s a step.

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We all know that breast cancer is a devastating disease, and even the money donated by “pinkwashed” organizations hopefully gets to a useful place. But when most of this money goes into the founder’s pockets, it speaks to a larger problem—no oversight, no one preventing powerful corporations from using known carcinogens, irritants and synthetics. BCAction and I strongly oppose this, of course, and they take a stand publicly with who can become a pink ribbon sponsor.

Even with so many organizations doing their own campaigns, we are no closer to a cure than ever.  How can that be? Because breast cancer is largely about environmental influencers, and perhaps the biggest of these are the toxins we absorb through our skin. For companies to keep using toxins and synthetics we know cause systemic imbalances and disease—it should be criminal!

I’ve personally received hundreds of letters of thanks from survivors and those in treatment who say mainstream products seriously irritate their skin, which is already so sensitive from drugs and treatment. “Look Good, Feel Better” could truly help people if they used organic and natural products, and they are surely aware of the research on toxic skincare additives—but their first priority is clearly their corporate sponsors and not what’s truly best for breast cancer survivors.

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What if companies became committed, not to capitalizing on natural through marketing, but to providing REAL natural products in formulas that actually work and cause no side effects? The science is there. The problem, as usual, is the cost. Companies could still make a profit, just not as massive a profit.

What if every CEO, like me, refused to allow a single synthetic, nanoparticle, GMO or other questionable ingredient in their products? What if they instead made education and health empowerment their priority instead of slapping a pink ribbon on the problem? Perhaps that, in itself, would lower breast cancer rates in future generations.

Then they’d actually be helping people “Look Good and Feel F*ing Fantastic”, and it would be amazing!

xo

– Suki

SELF-TALK & SELF-LOVE: CONQUERING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

self_love1another swimsuit season come & gone, & now it’s daaaamn cold! thank goodness I have a love of boots that borders on addiction :). but, do the insecurities that go along with exposing our bodies disappear along with the healthful summer sun & ahhhhhh warm breezes on our skin?

uh no! they’re just easy to cover up & the relief that comes with it, well, feels EASY temporarily!
fall….the great clothes, the crisp, refreshing, new life in the air…sure, it’s nice for a bit, but how deep does it go if inside, we don’t feel good about ourselves?

even with an eating disorder in so distant my past that I can’t even imagine having had one & even with my years being an advocate for “know your beauty” on so many levels, I can’t shake the nagging fixation on the 10 pounds I’ve gained in the last year.

yeah, 10. I look at pictures of myself competing in my last dance competition, when I thought my body was at its best. but the truth is, I’m actually in better shape now than I’ve ever been! I think, what a waste of time & energy, but…I just can’t let go. ugh, don’t get me started!

& why? well, part of it is all summer long, media headlines have been aggressively screaming a common theme: shape up for summer! get your bikini body back! even the most confident & mentally healthy folks begin to feel the pressure that something is not quite right with themselves. but, what if we could really celebrate who we really are instead of obsessing over who we’re not—a person that doesn’t even exist. in my case, someone always stressed out & constantly tense, trying to be & do everything absolutely perfect, always apologizing for myself, feeling guilty about—jeez, who the heck knows!

we know body image isn’t based on facts, but emotions, & emotions start with thoughts. & the best place to begin improving how we feel about ourselves is to do some hardcore work on what we think about ourselves. more importantly, how our thoughts LEAD to the emotions that get us into the “funks” we find ourselves in. it’s really as simple as that….& as hard! I mean, our minds are darn difficult to deal with! in my dancing, the very moment I let my mind in, & this is hard to explain, everything goes all to h*ll. but if I can lower my mind, much like meditation, & be at one with myself & my partner, my body, the music, it’s the most beautiful, amazing, transforming experience there is. as my partner/teacher says, where is music? it is everywhere? in our dancing in that mode? WE ARE EVERYWHERE!  we are nowhere, we just ARE. it’s the closest thing to zen I’ve ever experienced. and the journey to this place, the constant journey here is battling & being aware of my negative self-talk, my brain telling me what I’ve always told myself since childhood.

the first step is to become aware of our constant self-talk or self “noises”. when I force myself to be aware of my thoughts, I become hyperconscious of words like “you’re stupid” or “ugh, Suki” in an inner voice that screams “lame girl!” & wow, what a punitive reality that is.

self_love2our minds first create our intentions & then create our reality. our minds are actually the ruler of our worlds, not our hearts, not our emotions! when we realize this, freedom is near, with a confidently JLO-sized butt load of hard work! & isn’t she a great example of how one woman changed a whole culture of women to want large rear ends instead of running from them? how’s that for some self-love & working with whatcha got! hoooaaaa!

positive self-image, like “confidence”, is like retraining a muscle that not only has gone dormant but has actually been trained to work against you (science has shown this starts in the womb! when my mom had a car accident, was in traction & had a C section, & fought with my dad non-stop, this started me out with a high cortisol level that has stalked me til today!). so you must exercise your self-talk in positive ways to make it strong, automatic & make it work for you, just like any other muscle! if you can, find a trainer to help (mine just happens to be my amazing dance teacher, which I’m telling you, has helped more than years of therapy).

makes me think of Stuart Smalley, the character on Saturday Night Live. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, & gosh darn it, people like me!” the truth in that, about positive affirmations & becoming our own best friend, hits home. there’s also this Disney movie called “The Kid” that always makes me cry in this one scene where the adult (Bruce Willis) is hugging & consoling himself as a weeping child, saying “it’s not your fault”. kills me every time (but I am a big baby after all 🙂 but think about it, what would it be like if we could meet ourselves as child, knowing what we know now, & truly explain it all, hug ourselves, reassure ourselves that we are not to blame for the horrible things we may have been accused of, or held accountable for, or blamed for, or not protected from? that’s deep man!

as an adult, you are the architect of your own self-concept. so the next time you notice a negative thought, it is your job to stop it in its tracks! replace that BS with new words of encouragement that make sense to who you actually are & lift you up! be honest, you are not (fill in the blanks), you are (insert the good things people say about you, but you just can’t seem to believe).

for me it’s “I’m not stupid or ugly, I’m smart & pretty”—gotta admit it’s even hard to write those to this day.

self_love3the chance to rewrite our story every day is the most powerful tool we’ve got! & I’m telling you, it’s transformational & touches every aspect of your life 🙂

you know, I would love to hear your experiences & help with your struggles as you create this new minute-to-minute discipline in your life & watch the changes take root & grow. & hey, DANCE y’all! seriously. or challenge, or just plain enjoy yourself through something that makes you feel scared & vulnerable. there’s nothing better for your self-esteem than the growing awareness that comes with seeing yourself for the first time, again & again! my next thing, aerial wrapping (or whatever they call it). I cant wait!

xo

—Suki