A time in my life where I felt a truly visceral understanding of what beauty is, I was standing on a green plateau in Peru, so high up that it felt like I’d left the modern world behind in more ways than one. Mountain peaks jutted up from below, blurred by the fog—or, I guess, at that height, by clouds. Squat, stone huts with thatched roofs dotted across the landscape. As breathtaking as the view was, and as exhilarating it was to be somewhere so removed from the culture I knew, the beauty I felt in that moment had more to do with what I’d learned about the nature of beauty than what I was seeing before me.
Then again in 2010, Kevin and I journeyed back to the Peruvian Andes to meet the famed Q’ero people. They are a small community that remained isolated from the developing world for centuries, until around the 1950s. Because of this, their perspective on how to live well, and by extension, on beauty, is unique, or as some might say, pure. I’ve already written about this experience a while back, but as I sat down to write this piece on beauty, my mind kept returning to the Q’ero and the inherent beauty in their way of life.
Glow from Within
We started Annmarie Skin Care with a promise to help our customers achieve beautiful, glowing skin. But what if I told you that the best, cleanest skincare products will only get you so far?
The Q’ero people live by five key principles—Munay, Yachay, LLan-kay, Kawsay, and Ayni—and while each touches on a different value, they are all about a gentle respect for ourselves, one another, and our earth. And despite the Q’ero not having access to top-of-the-line skincare, they are radiant. It’s a glow that comes from their inner peace.
Munay (pronounced ‘moon-aye’) meaning love and beauty. A love that is simple and real and does not expect anything in return. It is of acceptance of yourself and others without judgement. You can not truly manifest it until your heart is open and your judgement is put aside.
Yachay (pronounced ‘ya-chey’) which means to know, or to have wisdom. Living in the rugged cold Andes, the Q’ero need to know how to survive- learning this from their ancestors. Without that knowledge, their people might not still be around today. They also see it as their responsibility to pass this wisdom on to their youth.
LLan-kay (Pronounced ‘yan-kay’) or “way of action.” Llan’kay literally translates to work, but it doesn't necessarily mean physical work or a 9-5 job. In our modern world you can apply llan’kay to your religious or spiritual practice. It can be applied to how you interact with others and how you show respect for people and our planet. Llan'kay can also correspond with how you take care of yourself; your body is a temple and should be treated as so.
Kawsay (Pronounced ‘cow-say’) means life, it is the energy that is permeated throughout creation on various vibrational levels. All things are connected and webbed together to form one. Similar to the beauty of how the Aspen Tree roots are all intertwined.
Anyi (Pronounced ‘aye-knee’) is by far the most important principle. Meaning respect and reciprocity. Respect for oneself, for others, and for the planet in which we all share.
Looking around at beauty magazines, adverts, blogs, and brands, I notice how far we are from the Q’ero ideal of mutual kindness and respect. In fact, our beauty culture is fueled by the opposite values: self-hate and comparison. In the Honest post, I discussed how many beauty brands or ideologies are dishonest, often pushing unproven remedies or preying on women’s insecurities. The end results? A toxic way of thinking about beauty. A focus on the artificial, outer appearance. A total neglect of how we feel inside, and a rejection of our exquisite wildness. Thankfully, times are changing (YES!).
This year let’s continue to be part of that change, with an admiring nod to the Q’ero people, I want to take the Annmarie Skin Care promise further and encourage you to nurture not only your skin, but your beautiful glow from within.
Don’t just Look. Think, Feel, and Act More Beautiful.
1. Think. Slow down, take a deep breath. There’s no one-size-fits-all list to bringing out your inner beauty, which is why I think the first thing to do is to think deeply about how you relate to yourself. This way, you’ll realize how to foster your inner beauty in the way that’s best for you. You can start by asking these questions:
How do I feel? (instead of the more common, “How do I look?”)
What simple pleasures can I enjoy today?
What could I tell myself that would instantly make me smile?
Who am I trying to be ‘beautiful’ for? Myself? Or Someone else?
-If it is for yourself, great!! That is awesome to hear. If it’s for someone else, that is just fine. Only promise me this… 1. Don’t make it a habit. 2. Do you actually know what ‘beauty’ means to them? Have that conversation with them, their definition might be totally different then what you presumed.
2. Feel. Step in front of your mirror. You can’t put your inner beauty on display if you don’t first feel it yourself. So, looking yourself straight in the eyes, repeat these affirmations (every day until you’ve vanquished your doubts!).
I am Beautiful.
I have the courage to be the person I want to be.
When I believe I am beautiful, others will, too.
3. Act. Forgive yourself for past conditioning. So what if, in the past, you’ve bought into the inflated value of outer beauty? Start over. Here are a few of my favorite actions to begin with.
- Nourish yourself with positive thoughts. Your mind is like your body. You have to feed it the good stuff in order for it to function well!
- Perform an act of kindness for someone else. Check out our post, 5 Ways to Spread Kindness This Holiday Season, for inspiration.
- Take time every day to do something that brings you complete joy. For me in this time of my life, is watching our kids play sweetly together and hearing them giggle.
- Replace one ‘artificial-beauty’ habit with a real-beauty habit. For example, switch your full face of makeup for something that makes you feel great inside like taking a brisk walk in a beautiful area!
There are days that are always harder than most. When our thoughts are just not as beautiful as we aspire to. Those are the times that I take a deep breath, do extra affirmation work and know when I am honest with myself, living authentically in my wildness I am infinitely more beautiful.
And remember love yourself full heartedly, we sure do!
This is the third of a three part series written by Annmarie about what it means to uphold the phrase that drive us to be what we are; what it means to be wild and beautiful.