Living a content life is an art form in itself. Depending on our perceptions of the world in general and ourselves in particular we are building our own distinctive reality at all times. And although it might not always look like it, we are the sole masters of our experiences. Our subconscious mind steers our awareness on autopilot to all the little facts and information that complement our underlying beliefs. Beliefs, influenced by parents, friends, teachers, role models, and, to an ever growing extent, the media.
Unfortunately, it is quite hard to live up to all these glamorous stories and glossy photographs shown in magazines and on television. In comparison, our looks never seem to match those perfect images and therefore our lives seem to be of a much lower standard. Self-loathing and insecurity often are the consequences. Diets, make-up, crèmes, clothes and cosmetic surgery serve as medication for the battered confidence of many women nowadays.
Bethan Stritton, artist and author from the Isle of Wight, calls this “the Dangling Carrot of Ideal Beauty”. In her book “Grow Your Own Gorgeousness” she describes how modern media plays with our minds and how important it is to reclaim a positive self-perception in order to live a life that is designed to make us happy with ourselves again – despite or even because of our imperfections. She offers methods to gain and maintain a self-awareness that is not polluted by beauty standards but filled with the joy of the honest uniqueness that every person possesses.
The book itself reflects this uniqueness through handwritten texts and beautiful illustrations. It is hand-bounded in vintage fabric and has a hand-painted calico cover. So it is not only a brilliant and inspirational read but an eye`s delight as well.
I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Bethan lately. Here I’d like to share some of the topics we were discussing:
Beth, you are very passionate about your books, your message, your artwork.
What inspired you to write “Grow Your Own Gorgeousness”?
My inspiration to create this book did not come like a bolt of lightning. It has grown and developed over many years. As a young adult I was acutely aware of the way women are objectified in western culture. The subject fascinated as well as angered me to a point. As I grew older it became clear that a huge proportion of western women have dysfunctional relationships not only with food, but their bodies. I discovered that many of my friends privately suffered from bulimia and anorexia and it seems now that this body-battle has become so epidemic, it is almost considered normal.
The media, the psychology behind beauty advertising, air brushing and celebrity role models all have a powerful part to play in creating impossible images of ideal beauty that we women then desperately try to reach. Our sense of worth has become determined by how successfully we reach these ideals.
I have been writing for many years and despite having had children’s books published, the personal growth industry is hard to crack into. I knew that Grow Your Own Gorgeousness was specialist and that it was going to take a special sort of person to take it on. Instead of typing it up neatly and sending it off to publishers, I decided to create the book in the image of my own gorgeousness and then proceeded to write and illustrated the sort of book that would delight me to read. Since then it has become quite a success. The message resonates with the heart of most women and because of this they then often buy more copies for their friends, sisters and daughters.
What do you want to achieve with this book?
I want to help women – and men – create a new place for beauty to sit within their lives.
Beauty and perfection are transitory things … they are susceptible to change depending on where you are and when you are. Not so long ago in China, a woman’s beauty was measured by the size of her feet. This resulted in the practice of foot-binding, where the woman’s foot would be bound up so tightly that it would grow malformed, seriously affecting the woman’s ability to walk. On the other side of the world in England, women were aspiring for an hour glass figure and laced themselves up into corsets so tight that they could hardly breathe, squashing their internal organs so that all sorts of physical problems arose.
In my book I refer to this transitory beauty as the Dangling Carrot of Ideal Beauty. The Dangling Carrot is in the hands of the beauty and fashion industries, who swing it here, there and everywhere whilst women chase, struggle, and starve or sculpt themselves to fit which ever fleeting shape is currently desirable.
My goal with Grow Your Own Gorgeousness is for women to take back the reigns of their beauty and begin to value their worth, not on how they look as a physical object, but who they are being and what they bring to the world. Gorgeousness is about the energy of you – your unique you-ness. It’s the essence of who you are, that, once embraced, will make you shine out and transform everything in your life. This beauty isn’t about plastering on make up to try and cover up something we perceive as flawed. It is about building and expressing the Beauty of your individuality … your Gorgeousness … and gifting that to the world.
“Grow Your Own Gorgeousness” is not your only project. There are a couple of other books you have written and you started a life coaching company recently. Hahaha. I have many projects. My dream is to have GYOG on the bedside table of every woman. It may sound like a big goal, but that only shows how much I believe in it. I am starting a project on my blog www.bethanstritton.com called The Gorgeousness List that will document the journey between publishing GYOG as a paperback and its journey to becoming a worldwide best seller. Anyone interested in creating their own Gorgeousness List (and achieving their big vision) will be supported in that process too.
Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Other books …. I have written a children’s positive thinking book called “Unleash The Zoo In You” and am developing educational resources to support the book in schools and at home. This book would make a great animated series and I would love to see it as a kids television series. I also make Mango Marmalade Gratitude Journals, which are popular. My teen life coaching book Life Kandy is available as an e-book on Kindle. There are several other little books, fiction and non-fiction up my sleeve, but they will have to wait until later in the year.
My coaching/training company is called Obelisk Training. We deliver Goal Mapping workshops to school children, adults, businesses and teams to help individuals to think positively and use the power of goal setting to improve their success rates and turn their dreams into reality. Presenting and public speaking is definitely another one of my passions.
Who do you want to reach with your work?
That’s a good question. Obviously, with my children’s book, Unleash The Zoo In You, the idea is to help children learn at a young age how their thoughts effects their beliefs, their attitudes, their actions and ultimately their results. Life Kandy is aimed at teenage girls.
Grow Your Own Gorgeousness is aimed at women, of all ages, who want to create a loving, powerful relationship with their body. I guess that the real way to make a change in the world is to impact the very people who are creating the media and influencing so many of our thoughts and perceptions. To get the message out I need to create a variety of methods to communicate to every woman and hence am currently playing with ideas for some sort of documentary or TV series.
As you can see, I have my fingers in many pies and a lot on my hands, but I will always make time to create my handmade books. I feel very honored to have them available at Fingerprints.
Thank you, Bethan!
We feel proud to be the first to present your work on the German market. Unfortunately your books are only available in English so far, but even so they are a huge asset for Fingerprints kreativ.
Do you want to learn more about Bethan and her various projects? Go and check out her website!