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All About Women – A Weekend of Talks

March 12, 2019

I purposefully spent a good amount of my young life trying not to be too girly while still presenting and identifying  as a biological female.  During the time that I grew up I didn’t really know how to discuss or explore gender in a societal sense, I understood that I COULD be whatever I wanted to be and that I could aim high but had no idea how one could be COMFORTABLE living as a strong,  driven girl or a girl that wasn’t at all interested in the things that the media designated for me.  I couldn’t get my head around how my biological sex could ever be expected to shape and mould my everything and I was absolutely adamant that I would ‘save’ myself, make my own money and do whatever the bloody hell I pleased (as long as it was legal, I have always been respectfully anarchic which makes no sense at all unless you know me well). Anyway,  as a consequence I grew up feeling very detached from what one might call ‘the sisterhood’, even though I had (and still have) two sisters.  Being ‘one of the girls’ wasn’t something I aspired to, in fact it filled me with dread and that dream continued well into my adult life and especially into my business life.

Even now that I’m somewhat more comfortable in my woman-skin I am still  prickly about joining in women-only networking events as they still feel too much like an environment I’ll find alien given that, in my experience, I have quite different feelings and experiences of navigating the big ‘woman’ issues such as mothering, business, life, relationships. While that no longer makes me feel like there is something wrong with me, it still makes interactions with groups of women a little difficult and slightly uncomfortable  for me as inevitably I’m on a completely different emotional page to the bulk of them – see, I’m calling them ‘them’ like I’m not included…

But I still keep trying and that’s why I came along to this talk fest ‘All About Women’ on the weekend following International Womens day.

Women are an important part of my business and while not all of my customers are women, the majority of brands  I end up working with have women as their primary target.  As a cosmetic chemist I don’t have much say in how the formulations get marketed, typically the marketing part is done by the brand owner and is presented to me as a brief which I furnish with chemistry, perhaps (in fact often) suggesting actives and a strategy to help the product sing to that market.  To achieve this task the process of brief development and targeting reduces women down to a few key features, we FRAGMENT her into:

Her Skin

Her Aspirations

Her Self-Esteem

Her Lifestyle

‘Of course a good cosmetic chemist and brand owner will never lose sight of the big picture’ I hear you say but you’d be quite wrong there,  it’s more often than not that brand owners and the brief process strip away the whole in favour of perfecting the parts.

I remember having a conversation with a male chemist years ago who happened to let slip that he sometimes used to forget to actually try what he formulated out, especially the colour cosmetics.  I have to admit that there have been times when I’ve done that too, got so caught up in the game of stability, formula price, how the product looks and how it flows out of the packaging that I too have forgotten to wear it, I too had reduced the woman-dominant target audience to just a canvas on which to display my work. Shameful really!

I set up ‘Realize Beauty’ to remind me and the wider public that beauty deserves to be realised wherever it exists and by that I mean we should strive to deeply and clearly understand and take time to register beauty in all things and all people, to expand our understanding of what beauty is and how it is expressed in all its many guises.  In order to achieve that I feel it is important that we take the time to absorb and appreciate beauty as a whole first rather than approach it in a reductive, fragmented, objectified or commercialised way.  I set up this way to advocate for relationship building based on appreciation and love rather than on something transactional, I think that realising beauty takes time, open minds and a willingness to really see things for what they are, not just how you perceive them to be (although one could argue philosophically about what that means and whether it is ever possible to see things from other perspectives or without our own intrinsic bias).

The talk that I went to at the Opera House was on the ‘Me too’ movement which was interesting but somewhat frustrating for reasons that perhaps aren’t relevant here but nevertheless it was good to be out amongst interested and eager-to-learn women and men of all ages and demographics.  I took my husband, youngest daughter and exchange student along for the ride and I’m pretty sure we all got something positive out of the experience.

Here are some pictures:

Reflecting on this with regards to how it relates to my business life I’m reminded to stay focused on respecting and realising beauty as a source of positive energy in the world.  The politics, legal constructs and societal expectations can all weigh heavily on us whoever we are and wherever we sit but at the end of the day if we focus on creating, appreciating, celebrating and empowering beauty wherever we see it we will be doing OK.  The world sometimes tells us that beauty is all fluff and bubbles but I’d say that’s wrong, it’s everything else that’s superfluous.

So I should just keep on keeping on then…

Amanda x


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