If you've ever browsed through any content in the health and wellness community, you've seen those hashtags:
Make no mistake, you've seen them in my posts too. It's a simple concept that a lot of strong presences in this community voice. Natural is good, and "unnatural" is bad.
Easy enough, right? To most people, it makes sense that putting something in or on your body that was created in a lab isn't nearly as beneficial as something straight from nature; it's not a stretch to then believe that those same unnatural ingredients could even have adverse effects. The only issue I have with this idea is when it crosses the line into obsession.
Not even half a year ago, I had quite the complex about this. To me, #natural was the gospel. I had slowly transitioned all my skincare and makeup over to "non-toxic" brands. I worshipped at the altar of natural facial oils. The thought of eating something with artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup literally terrified me. Whenever anyone else talked about how they felt sick, a horrible little voice in my head would say "it's because of the junk they're subjecting their body to!" I was right. I was superior.
And I was miserable.
To be completely honest, I was a mess. My skin, which has been a constant uphill battle my entire life, was breaking out worse than it had in years as a result of my non-toxic facial oil routine. My all-natural makeup compounded the issue. I didn't have all the joy or energy I was led to believe an all-natural lifestyle would bring me. Most of the time I actually felt guilty, as if it was my fault that the non-toxic lifestyle wasn't living up to expectations. I was doing everything right...so why wasn't it working? Was it just me?
It wasn't until I took a step back that I realized I was so focused on "natural" that I had stopped focusing on healthy.
I had been so fixated on keeping toxins out of my body that I'd somehow allowed them into my mind. I was so low, it was difficult to find the passion or even the willpower to post any photos. Anything I put on Instagram would feel like a complete lie. My impossible standards for "clean living" weren't helping me. They were hurting me.
So...I just stopped. It wasn't doing me any good to wear makeup that was ruining my skin and was honestly just not as effective, so I started using some of my old "toxic" brands again. I remembered then how much I used to enjoy doing my makeup! Same for skincare, back to the dermatologist-recommended basics...which are technically considered "toxic." And I decided that once in a while, I could have some of my favorite sour gummy candy. Even though corn syrup was the first ingredient.
And guess what? My world didn't come grinding to a halt. I'm still here. And I finally feel okay.
We hear all the time how important moderation is. It's easy in theory, but decidedly more difficult in practice...especially if you have the tendency to get obsessive about diets or routines like I do. But no amount of junk food or chemical-laden makeup could ever make me feel as bad about myself as sticking to a routine that clearly wasn't doing me any good.
(I feel like it needs to be said: this is by NO MEANS an attack on natural products. Some of them are great! And it is important to know what's in your food. But when it gets to the point that everything in your life has been sorted into either "non-toxic" or "toxic," a dangerous line has been crossed. Especially if you continue to follow that lifestyle in spite of the damage it's causing you.)
So if you take anything away from this blog post, let it be this: you are not obligated to adopt a lifestyle that causes you pain or discomfort, especially if you're feeling guilted into it by outside influences (I see you, Instagram). Your sole obligation is to do what's right for you. If that means only using natural products, that's great! If it means getting a few cheap lipsticks at the drugstore because they're cute and they stay on for 8 hours, you do you. At the end of the day, the only person having to answer for your life choices is you.
I owe it to myself to do what's right for my body. And so do you.