Being a woman in business who is perceived positively isn’t easy - actually, it’s really #%@$#! hard. We are expected to talk a certain way, and look a certain way… which means that we have to live up to a beauty standard. We all do it somewhat unconsciously.
We don’t realize that we are bound to beauty standards that have become ingrained in us. We just go through the motions of what we should do without thinking much about it.
During medical school, residency, the early years of my practice, and raising children I didn’t have the time or money to spend on elaborate beauty rituals. But eventually, as my practice, my children, and I “matured”, I realized I needed to invest more time and effort in self-maintenance. My desire was to look as good as I felt even as my years on this planet accumulated - especially after the Five Decade Mark!
I am the first to admit that in the past, I have consumed much of what the beauty industry has to offer. Gel manicures, pedicures, hair color, balayage, highlights, extensions, Brazilian blowouts, facials, lasers, fillers and Botox. I went from a negligible effort to a herculean beauty routine in my late thirties. I was easily persuaded by the nail techs and salon owners to further fuel my addiction. The “symptom” of not feeling good about myself as I aged turned into a full-blown, addiction to all things beauty. I felt tethered to so many rituals, most of which I did not enjoy, but felt that I had to maintain just to be “beautiful.”
Over time, I realized that I was trying to fill a void with my excessive beauty addiction. What dissatisfaction existed in my life that I was trying to cover up? It turns out that I believed getting older meant that I was less vibrant and had less to offer the world. I was led to believe that the only thing that I had to offer as a woman was beauty, and once that was gone, there was nothing left. Clearly these thoughts didn’t make me feel good. I then proceeded to make a list of what I liked about myself and what others liked about me. I was shocked to see that the list didn’t contain external validation of beauty. I decided I would spend my free time focused on health and well-being. The cure to the addiction came from this epiphany. Once I concluded that there was no inverse correlation between vibrancy and age, I felt the freedom return! I declared to myself out loud that I could be older and vibrant. I also acknowledged that I had more to offer the world than a pretty face, hair and nails.
The draw of the beauty industry is that it’s designed to make you feel like you are so ugly that you need the beauty industry to make you beautiful. The beauty industry makes a profit when you feel miserable. Wouldn’t it feel different if you could get beauty treatments done because you want to bring out your best qualities, not because you feel bad about what society tells you are your worst qualities?
I wanted to be free of the beauty standards that have been imposed upon me for so long. I wanted to feel good about myself without the validation of the beauty industry and I wanted to be unbound from those feelings that tethered me. This was one of the primary reasons I started Kalvera Skin Therapy. I wanted to focus on skin health, because the measure of beauty should be about how confident we feel, and we all feel more confident when our skin is healthy. I want women to love themselves no matter what their features, and focus on health and well-being.
If you find that you are addicted to countless beauty routines because you don’t think you are beautiful enough - consider evaluating why you are in the pattern of self-loathing. Chances are the same people who are selling you “beauty” are the same ones that have advertising that makes you feel “ugly” so that you’ll buy more from them.
Remember, beauty should be non-comparative. Just like you can’t compare two works of art by different artists, you can’t compare human beings and decide one is more beautiful than the other. True beauty is the by-product of self-confidence, self-love, positive energy, healthy routines, and the freedom that comes with the Joie de Vivre!
Dr. Kalpana Sundar is a Physician, entrepreneur and speaker with a passion to disrupt beauty standards and empower women. She is the co-founder of Kalvera Skin Therapy, a startup that tracks skin metrics using technology and uses med-tech procedures to heal your skin. Kalvera Skin Therapy opened its flagship location in Jacksonville Beach, FL in 2020, and is growing rapidly.
Dr. Kalpana is also the author of the forthcoming book Beauty Unbound.