on beauty - part two

beau·ty noun \ˈbyü-tē\
:  the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit
A sense of beauty is an important part of our identity and style. The way we think about beauty and our bodies is often a reflection from our childhood home : we carry on the habits and knowledge that our families passed to us. Having children forces us to rethink our daily routines, also the ones involving beauty and style. The product choices, routines and values go through the whirlwind of a everyday life with kids, pushing busy moms to develop new approaches and priorities.
Three mothers working on visual fields give us a glimpse of their everyday life and talk about beauty.

Nora Hellberg, owner and designer at Art of Proloque

Two- and four-year-old daughters

" I was born and raised in Porvoo. We spend a lot of time in Helsinki as well since the distance is not that long. As a small girl I often came here and spend a Saturday shopping with my mom. Both sides of my family are full of artistis and aesthetically orientated people. My own mom is a really classic lady, always impeccable. I have never seen her in sweatpants, for example. When she was young she used to attend beauty contests.  Appearance and beauty have always been valued in my family, even for the men. For my father and grandfather well-cared hands have always been important.  I remember how my maternal grandfather – an enthusiastic amateur painter -  used a mask made of mandarin slices on his face every night. He had a very beautiful skin even when he was old. The appreciation of aesthetics was also present in the details of everyday life: how food was presented or flowers arranged. 

I never had a period of rebellion in my youth. I did try out different styles -  like I wore big hats to school and that kind of things - but it was more about defining my own style than rebellion. In the 1980´s I dressed a lot like my dad. I wore creased pants and pique polo shirts just like he did. Funnily enough, my eldest daughter has had a same kind of period, where she copied the style of Emil in Lönneberga (of Astrid Lindgren´s book) and dressed only in dress shirts. 

Before I had kids I used to work a lot. I would immerse myself in my work: I left early and came home late. I did not have a lot of energy to think about my style and most often I just pulled my hair on a ponytail. I don´t feel like my style has changed now with children. But I do have more energy and time to concentrate on myself and on my home. I wanted the home to be a beautiful and comfortable place to bring home the babies. When I was pregnant I even bought myself some delicate high heels. Although I knew I couldn´t use them right away, it was mentally important for me to know they were waiting for me in the closet - it gave me a feeling that there is more to life than babies and childcare. For my own wellbeing it has been crucial that my pre-baby self does not disappear completely.  When you stay at home a lot, it is significant how it looks around you. When you get help for cleaning or if someone just brings flowers, it will create a feeling of control.

My beauty routine has not changed because of the kids. I have not given up any products or something like that. The only difference is that I have now more time to think about matters concerning beauty. Often women give up chemicals and move towards organic products when they get pregnant, but I think I am even more relaxed with those things nowadays. My mom used to wash her face with a bar of soap and I continue that habit, at the moment I use Savons Gemme.  I buy cosmetics online as well as from the traditional brick-and-mortar. I guess I am a bit shy customer, I would love to just browse the products alone. I love beautiful packaging and I collect exquisite powder cases. On weekdays I do a variation of my classic make-up: it changes a bit every day, but usually it just means fixing the eye brows and putting on some mascara.

As a mother you always have to be so exemplary, that sometimes it feels exhausting. Mothers can also be a bit mysterious and have a few vices that the kids don´t need to know about. It can be dangerous to aim for perfection all the time. I know that I am not perfect at everything and I remind myself that nevertheless I am good in some other things."

On Beauty (Kauneudesta) is a series of interviews developed and written together with Anni Ruotsalainen. We were interested in the values, habits and traditions that form our perception of beauty. The series was photographed by Sara Vallioja-Herlin. This is a freely translated excerpt from the original text written in Finnish. The un-edited version can be found on Kidd.O #3-magazine.



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