The Fine Line Between Self-Acceptance & Self-Improvement

Last week, the call for entry was launched for my new television series, MOOIMAAK, set to air on kykNET from 5 October 2017.

Since then, I am happy to report, we have been snowed under by entries and social media responses, some of which have included the following wonderfully candid comments: 

  • “I need something positive like this in my life’;
  • “It’s as if my prayers have been answered, I need a smile makeover. I am unable to afford a dentist and, as a result, I no longer smile with confidence”;
  • “Being chosen as a participant in this show, would be the most amazing gift I have ever received in my life.”

Whilst my talented production team and I are (needless to say) extremely excited about the public’s overwhelming response, it did make me sit back and wonder: to what extent can or should improving our looks be a determining factor in changing our lives?

The title of our show (“MOOIMAAK”) refers, loosely translated, to the act of “beautifying something or someone”. The term also has a more colloquial meaning in Afrikaans, denoting the idea of “playing nicely” or “being gentle”.  As the title thus suggests, our goal is without question to “beautify” or dramatically improve the appearance of our participants and, in so doing, improve their lives: perhaps we can give their self-confidence the boost it needs for them to finally apply for that job or go on that date.

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The dramatic effects of the latest skin-resurfacing laser treatments are indisputable

In addition, our aim is to achieve this outcome by “playing nicely” i.e. without knives (pun intended). We are excited about the sheer variety of non-surgical cosmetic and dental procedures on offer today in South Africa, at the hands of world-class professionals. This includes commonly known treatments such as chemical peels, botox and fillers to lesser known, cutting-edge procedures such as thread lifting and carboxytherapy, as well as the very latest cosmetic dentistry techniques.  We know that there are many women out there who might wish to improve their appearance by means of these treatments, but who lack the finances or the know-how to do so. This is where I hope to come in, by sharing my little black book of experts (from the country’s foremost non-surgical aesthetic practitioners and cosmetic dentists to my favourite makeup artists, hair stylists and designers) with our participants and, of course, our at-home audience.

At the same time, although we firmly believe that this series will change people’s lives, we are by no means advocating that “fixing your looks will fix your entire life”. How could anyone make such a claim when some of the world’s most annoyingly and gobsmackingly gorgeous people (e.g. Angelina Jolie) have publicly admitted to self-destructive behaviour that would, by all accounts, indicate a life somewhat broken on the inside?

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So, if we, at MOOIMAAK, are hoping to changes peoples’ lives by changing their appearance, but at the same time saying “good looks alone won’t make you happy”, we are back to my original question, and I repeat: “to what extent can or should improving our looks be a determining factor in improving our lives?”

Having given it some thought over the last few days, I feel the answer might lie somewhere in the balance: the balance between self-acceptance and self-empowerment.

Whilst there are some things about our appearance we certainly cannot change and thus need to accept, there are plenty of wonderful things we can do to improve the way we look and, hopefully, the way we feel (ranging from expensive and time-consuming treatments to simply getting a more flattering hair cut or learning some clever new makeup tricks). I, for one, have certainly experienced the impact that having a cosmetic problem (like problem skin or skew teeth) can have on one’s confidence. On the flip side, however, I have endured (like everyone else) some challenging times in my life, including painful breakups and the death of loved ones, where (finally) having a clear complexion or a semi-Colgate smile did nothing to lighten the load.

So, before deciding to improve our appearance (whether it be on a glamorous makeover show or not), perhaps we should be guided by the famous (paraphrased) words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

In the current context, we might thus do well to ask ourselves the following questions (I’ll write them out in bullet points, in case your attention span is anything like mine, i.e. that of a goldfish with amnesia):

  • Which of our appearance-related problems do we need to accept and which can or do we want to do something about?
  • Which of the obstacles we face (like struggling to make that call to The Potential One or submit an application for The Perfect Job) might well be overcome by making some of the cosmetic changes on our wish list?
  • And, last but not least: which of the other ‘ugly’ issues in our lives (like an unhappy marriage or long-term family feuds) require a different kind of renewal?

Lastly, please know that, of course, I realise this is one of those highly controversial topics that everyone will have a different (yet equally valid) opinion on. I simply wanted to share my thoughts here and, hopefully, highlight a topic worthy of attention.

Love,

Clare.

How I Learned to Embrace Imperfection Through The Concept Of Wabi Sabi

ClareWieseblog2I was recently introduced by a close family friend to the super cool Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”. During an impromptu “pop-in” to my parents’ place, where Lynda and my mother were enjoying espressos and rearranging furniture, I rather strongly  suggested that the way-too-visible air-conditioning unit in the lounge, amongst some rather nice pieces of art and a shiny black piano, might warrant a relocation. Lynda looked at me, with a knowing grin on her beautiful face, and simply said “no, darling, it’s wabi-sabi.”

As I’m lying here in bed with a flu that seems like it has literally “moved in” to my life (and has no plans to leave, ever), trying to tackle an avalanche of emails, it’s dawned on me that today is Thursday and, yet again, I have missed my usual 09h00 on a Thursday publishing time. Now, for a girl like me (who loves a bit of routine and order), this realisation has not been well received by the self.

Because, well, I generally like things to be perfect. Perfectly timed, perfectly presented and perfectly in order. But – as I am sure anyone reading this will agree – that just ain’t how life works. That’s why the concept of “wabi sabi” struck such a deep and powerful chord with me the moment I first heard of it. The fact that this powerful philosophy is of Japanese origin (and as we all know, I’m a tad obsessed with anything Japanese) is just a bonus.

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“Wabi-sabi” is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics referring to a world view based on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete:” take, for example, the aforesaid hideous air-con unit ill-placed in an otherwise elegant living space, handwritten post-it notes stuck onto the glass frames of original art works (one of my quirky mom Caro’s signature moves), laugh lines, crow’s feet, scars & skew noses (ask any rugby player) and hideously scuffed heels on pricey stilettos (my sister and I have a special knack for ruining shoes).

But, wait there is more (sorry, I could’t help myself;).  This powerful philosophy of “beauty in imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness”, of course, transcends mere aesthetics. In fact, it can and should, in my opinion, be applied to all aspects of life.

Not only does society expect us to look “ageless”, run a household like Bree from Desperate Housewives and find The One (with whom to have The Beautiful Babies) by no later than our mid thirties, but many of us only add to that load with our own additional list of perfectionistic expectations.

BrokenchairClareWieseThe problem, as we all know, is that reality looks a little bit different: many of us don’t have Heidi Klum’s metabolism or perfect, blemish-free skin (myself included), we all do and say stupid things that we subsequently regret, and most homes are not in a constant state of decluttered minimalism (contrary to how they might appear, from time to time, in perfectly styled magazine shoots). And, most relationships are either transient or imperfect. I have personally witnessed many close friends endure ugly, messy divorces or serious marital discord. I, myself, have experienced some significant relationship setbacks: I broke up with a former boyfriend after a six-year relationship just before I turned 30 (not a great age to experience a big break-up), and, a while ago, one of my very closest girlfriends and I were (as Ross from “Friends” put it) “on a break” for almost two years.

So, now that we have established (or, let’s just say we have, for the sake of this post) that “a constantly perfect life” will never exist, even though we might really want it to, what choice do we really have but to accept it? Even better, how liberating can it be to start embracing life’s imperfect, impermanent and incomplete nature?

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Please don’t get me wrong: I am by no means saying we should, or always can, let go of deeply ingrained perfectionistic tendencies (I would say my own personal tendencies are pretty much genetic, so I would need some sort of DNA re-mapping here). Moreover, I firmly believe such tendencies have their place: channeled correctly, they can be of great advantage to us, especially in the context of self-motivation, self-discipline and the achievement of goals.

The trick, I think, is to recognize the difference between the way you want things to be, sometimes, and the way they actually are. And, more than that, to be OK with that discrepancy.  So, these days, when I open my horrendously intimidating email inbox and watch it grow like some self-feeding little green monster, wake up to spot new fine (ish) lines around my eyes, have a fallout with a loved one or abandon big projects and change course mid-way, I try to remind myself of “wabi sabi” and the liberating value in accepting “what is, just as it is”.  As Richard Powell, author of Wabi Sabi Simple put it: “accepting the world as imperfect, unfinished, and transient, and then going deeper and celebrating that reality, is something not unlike freedom.”

OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my metaphorical chest, please excuse me whilst I return to nursing my actual, real-life flu (which I’m hoping will begin to reveal its transience any second now).

PS If you’re intrigued and want to know more, here’s a list of Amazon.com‘s books on “wabi sabi”.  I can’t recommend any particular one, I’m afraid, but whichever one you get, I’m sure it will be imperfectly perfect:)

Love,

Clare

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Inside My Wardrobe (& The Silo Hotel) Part 3 | Dancing On The Rooftop

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So, this is our final instalment in the fabulous Silo fashion series, which award-winning New York based photographer Jean-Pierre Uys lovingly shot & directed for us at Cape Town’s hottest new hotel (you guessed it, The Silo). Don’t miss Part 1 Part 2 of this editorial, if you didn’t catch them previously.

As I type this, it’s 23h22 at night and I can’t sleep. It might have something to do with the Very Exciting But Nerve-Wracking Project I am about to embark upon this week or it could just be because my body likes to keep me from sleep when I really, really need it (you know, just for fun and, of course, to annoy my poor husband who already puts up with so much and has to get up at 05h00 every morning for Lunatic Gym Hour).

Due to the necessary planning & preparation that has gone into the above-mentioned Project, you might have noticed that I (embarrassingly) failed to post anything this week at the usual 09h00 on Thursday time slot. I do sincerely apologise for this, as I can’t stand it when people make me wait! So, I figured, now is as good a time as any to catch up on my bloggin’ backlog.

Anyway, here are some wonderfully happy photographs that my incredibly talented team (details below) and I created for the last part of this series. We took these photos at the end of a (very long but super fun) day, after Gilbert and Renee’s phones had run out of data space (due to the unprecedented amount of selfies taken between them), all of us had had a bit of champagne, the sun was setting over Lion’s Head & a crowd of Cape Town’s high-society cocktail drinkers were observing this bunch of crazy kids with what could only be described as bewildered amusement. (I can’t wait to post the behind-the-scenes pics of this day, as they are just too good not to share in a separate post).

All shots were taken on the breathtakingly beautiful rooftop of the Silo hotel – probably the best place in town to get a 360 degree panoramic view of the Mother City, in all its glory.  (FYI: The rooftop bar is not open to the public on a walk-in basis, but bookings can be made in advance. And, believe me, you should make one!)

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WHAT I WORE

Dress | this floaty, dreamy full-length silk gown (which we almost ended up submerging in the pool, due to having an “impulsive arty moment” which thankfully passed) is from one of my favourite Italian fashion houses, Etro. I originally bought it in London for my Kitchen Tea last year, but never ended up wearing it.

Layered necklaces | the rose gold Double Disc Diamond Initial Necklace is from Sloane & Madison (my own jewellery company, based in South Africa. Our doors are temporarily closed, but if you are really insistent, like some of our dear clients have been:), you might be able to find us at clare@sloaneandmadison.com). The longer rose gold vermeil and diamond necklace is from Monica Vinader.

Rings | to create a boho luxe look I really loved, I layered some (rather expensive) fine jewellery Paka Paka yellow gold and rose gold pieces with costume jewellery pieces by high-street chain, Aldo. They often have some well-designed costume items that are so easy to wear.

MY GLAM SQUAD

Photography & (some necessary;) re-touching by Jean-Pierre Uys | Makeup by the one and only Renee De Wit | Hair by Gilbert Mofubelu at Spoilt (moving to Hair soon) | Styling by Clare Wiese & Shari Kennedy

A HUGE THANK-YOU TO THE AMAZING SILO HOTEL FOR ALLOWING US TO DANCE ON THEIR ROOFTOPS.

If you’re enjoying this blog, please don’t forget to Like The Global Critic Facebook’s page or, even better, if you loved this particular post, share it on your Facebook wall (as we know by now, #sharingiscaring;)

Love,

Clare.