Below are stories of women who choose to embrace, discover and discuss their own kind of beauty. These women define beauty by not just doing something that is expected because they are women, but for the betterment of themselves and the culture of women. Let’s all look at beauty in a new light today.

Click on the blue title to read the full article.

Winged Nike of Samothrace: "The work is notable for its convincing rendering of a pose where violent 
motion and sudden stillness meet."


I Don’t Shave.

“And with the change in season comes my internal struggle between my needs and wants and the needs and wants of the society in which I live.”

“I’m amazed that we’ve reached the point where a woman who doesn’t get rid of her body hair, hair that grows naturally, is a rare specimen. I’m not judging the millions of women who wax because they want to (although we’d have to dig deep to know why they want to), but I am critical of the point we’ve reached where there’s no choice about whether or not we remove our body hair. It’s a given, period.”

“They’re an assault against an aesthetic, against an image of female beauty that we have ingrained in our culture and in our society.  That same image I want to change, simply because it’s not real. Women have hair on their legs. We have hair on our armpits. And on our pubis. And in a thousand other places. We’re hairy, the same as men. And that’s real. A reality that women, pressured by one another, insist on hiding.”



How To Move Beyond Beauty

“Beauty is whatever you want it to be, for you. So is ugliness, and ugly pride. It’s a harsh, dangerous, mean world we live in together, and I’d like to think we can make room for all kinds of bodies doing all kinds of delicious things with fashion, gender expression, and style.

Let’s move beyond beauty together.”



The Burn of the Beautiful Blowout

“That Monday afternoon was the first and last time Arce tried Brazilian Blowout. For weeks after that first treatment, Arce got sick every time she applied heat to her hair. She tried to wash the product out. That didn’t work. She sometimes had to leave her house with her hair wet because she couldn’t bear what happened when she straightened it. She was, however, very satisfied with the way her hair looked when it was finished that Monday. It was smooth and sleek.

“I loved it,” she says.”



My Year Without Makeup

“Despite this remarkably average female chronology, I feel I have one small, hard-won feature that is extraordinary. It is this: When I look in the mirror, I don’t see wrinkles, anxiety, zits, or exhaustion, although they are all there. Instead, I see a face, a person, a personality, a life. If someone asked me if I felt beautiful, I would have to answer honestly: yes.”


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When you think of plants do you think of sunscreen? Dr. Velder does. “Plants use color as sunscreen,” explains Ralph Velder, M.D., Ph.D.,  “the more colorful the plant the higher it’s protection against unwanted rays.” What’s incredible is that science is now beginning to show us that eating plants can bring us that same protection plants give to themselves.

Lycopene. Antioxidants. Flavonids. Polyphenols. Sulforaphane. These wonderful constituents are all naturally built into a diet filled with plants. They contribute to the protection of our skin. Different plant-foods can protect and give our skin a better advantage from sun effects such as burns, premature aging, liver spots and certain cancers.

Here are 3 ways your food can protect your skin, aka 3 ways your sunscreen is truly edible.

1-Eat color.

One pigment found in plants is called lycopene, it is most commonly released from cooking a tomato, has been shown to help prevent sunburns.

“In a 2001 study, volunteers who ate 40 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of tomato paste, plus 10 grams (2 tablespoons) of olive oil (to aid absorption) daily for 10 weeks, were 40% less likely to be sunburned [than peers who merely ate tomatos].”

Cooked tomatos have high concentrations of lycopene that your body can use, and it can be found in ketchup, drinks, paste, sauces, or soups. Other brightly colored fruits and vegetables can help your body protect itself too- such as orange peppers, blueberries, and strawberries.

2-Eat dark chocolate.

Eating dark chocolate (at least 60% and above) with no milk has been shown in studies to increase the ability of the skin to protect itself from sunlight.

The Journal of Nutrition sited a study that showed a small group of participants who had “flavanol-charged cocoa” (dark chocolate) increased their skin’s ability by 25 percent to “fend off sunlight.”

I don’t think I need any reasons to eat dark chocolate. Delicious chocolate companies like Endangered Species or Theo make it easy to find milk free products that are usually 70% and above.

3-Drink tea.

Especially green or black tea. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a study by Dartmouth Medical School researchers “who had found that subjects who drank two or more cups of either black or green tea daily were 30 percent less likely to have squamous cell carcinomathan their peers who didn’t drink tea. Even better, those who’d sipped tea for 47 years or more saw their odds of squamous cell cancer plummet by an impressive 51 percent.”

Search out loose leaf and organic tea for a higher quality drink. Letting it seep longer can bring out more polyphenol content like antioxidants (involved in the prevention of cell damage) that target free radicals (the bad stuff that can break down important cells such as DNA) unleashed by the sun.

And most importantly, eat well.

While I have only listed 3 ways that can protect your skin from the sun there are many I have not listed. Include a variety of plants into your diet whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan.  While colored plants, dark chocolate and tea are featured here there are many other nurtrients found in plants, don’t limit yourself.

Eat well today - for your skin, your body and your mind.


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Art can be an interesting reflection and commenentary on beauty and on being human. What interests us might create a bigger conversation about beauty and a search for a humanness that connects us all. Below are a few conversation pieces worth checking out.


Should Barbie be reflective of us?

Artist Nickolay Lamm “used CDC measurements of an average 19-year-old woman to create a 3-D model, which he photographed next to a standard Barbie doll. Lamm then photoshopped the 3-D model to make it look like a Barbie doll.”

Would it matter if young girls were playing with these dolls instead of the unrealistic, unproportational, teeny tiny classic Barbie doll? Or maybe the question should be would they even choose a normal looking doll? Would they find it more beautiful?



How do we react to seeing sculptures of ourselves?

Artist Ron Mueck is known for his hyper realistic scupltures that many can’t seem to look away from. They have been described as bizarre and amazing. When we see something that looks so much like us, but so completely out of proportion, it doesn’t seem to make sense. His work often shows the hyper realistic version the of human condition and body.

His work captures the essence of humans. Does it capture beauty? Does it capture uglyness? Either way it reflects us.




 Superstar celebrities looking like regular people.

Danny Evans is a master at transforming the famous face into the regular ol’ neighbor next door. Evans explains what started his interest in photoshopping  stars, “The makeunders started a few years ago. It was a reaction to the over-retouched photos of celebrities that have inexplicably become the norm. I wanted to reverse the process and show what stars might look like without photoshop, trainers, stylists, and endless means.” He also comments that the stars in all of their glam seem to “all look the same and I think it’s really boring.”

What makes beautiful celebrities interesting when they look plain and…regular? Are they still beautiful or are we drawn in just so we can see them as human? When untouchable beauty meets the normal day to day, if anything, it’s amusing.




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This month you can find my sunshiny article called, Let The Sun Shine Safetly for You, in the Willamette Valley magazine, Take Root.

This article is one of my favorites because I get the opportunity to talk about sun exposure and sun protection, and why you should care. I also provide an updated recipe to make your own sunscreen at home.

You can view the magazine online for free here, or you can purchase a hard copy (it’s so beautiful in real life it’s worth it, but then again I am biased) at any of these spots in Oregon.




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Or is it?

I know many people who are trying to eat better. Either by eating thoughtfully, eating less dairy, plant-based or choosing more whole foods. Often times there is a backlash, or some sort of misunderstaning  from those who aren’t eating in a differnent way, from those who eat the typical American diet.

Comments fly fast about new diets filled with vegetables, meatless meals, or no dairy, “I could never do that,” they may say. I also hear, “you have an extreme diet!” A while back I saw the documentary Forks Over Knives and it reminded me what extreme really is.

Forks Over Knives shares, the not new, but often ignored, idea that our body is a system. When your artery is clogged it is a symptom of a problem that is connected to your entire body, not just your artery. Coronary artery bypass, gastric bypass, liposuction and other life threatening surgeries are often the first defense against getting healthy again and solving problems that try to fix the whole body.

Maybe it’s time we start to rethink what the term “extreme” really means.


Nanoparticles. Even if you haven’t heard of them you have most likely used them, actually you might be using them right now.  In cosmetics it improves the texture and helps provide a more vibrant color. In sunscreens it makes your product formula smooth, less viscous, and practically transparent once it hits your skin. We ask for it, and technology gives it to us. Better, smoother, unnoticeable—but what is the price for this perfect product?

Nanoparticles are part of the science of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology, you may want to know, is the manipulation of matter at the nanometer size (the teenyest, tiniest, microscopic level). These nanomaterials, found in your everyday products, are described as ultra fine particles. Look all you want, but you won’t find “nanomaterials” or “nanoparticles” listed on the ingredient list of your mineral makeup or sunscreen. Although since 1999 the FDA has allowed these particles to be used. In 20 years it is estimated that it will be a $1 trillion dollar industry. In the US there is no current regulations regarding labeling nanoparticles in our products.

Should we be concerned?

We don’t know yet, but there are studies showing that maybe we should be.

A study done by Marisa D Newman MD found, “There are legitimate and verified toxicity concerns with regard to TiO2 (titanium dioxide) and ZNO (zinc oxide) nanosized particles in sunscreens…” She summarizes that they are “unable to conclude with certainty that nanosized particles are safe to use in sunscreens.”

Does this matter, if we don’t know yet?

Let me ask:

What is the effect of nanoparticles in the sun? We don’t know yet.

What is the effect of nanoparticles on broken skin, on skin with eczema, or on sunburned skin? We don’t yet yet.

What is the effect of inhaling/slathering on nanoparticles over one’s lifetime? We don’t know yet.

Why are nanoparticles so prevalent in our sunscreen and cosmetic products when they have only been around for 14 years and research studies cannot conclude it is safe? I don’t know yet.

With nanoparticles secretly lurking in any many of our sunscreens and cosmetics (lip products, mineral makeup, eye shadows, blushes, bronzers) the question is up to you now: should you be concerned?


Check out these articles to help you make your decision:

Ecouterre: Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles

Friends of the Earth: Nano-ingredints in Sunscreen

(Side note: Samvid Sunscreen does not contain nanomaterials.)






I received a lot of feedback from my first vegan food list for Salem, so I decided it was time to update it and include all of your great suggestions too. Here are the places you will find me eating when I have given up on cooking.

Please feel free to keep adding to the list, I love trying new places!





Food Options

Broken Bread:

This is my favorite restaurant for a date night in downtown Salem. They have a new menu every night and if you call ahead to make reservations the chef will make sure there is a vegan option on the menu for you. Broken Bread makes you feel comfortable asking about vegan options and they are very accommodating to any needs you might have. Side note, the bread is not vegan and they don’t have any vegan desserts, but the food the local, fresh and satisfying.


Huge burritos here! If you have never been, you can choose your burritos or salad items on Lancaster Drive in North Salem. If you get the vegan one (without cheese) guacamole is included for no extra charge. Also, make sure you choose the black beans NOT the pinto ones, they are cooked with meat.

Christo’s Pizzaria:

Ask about their vegan options. They have vegan dough, so basically you can include whatever veggies toppings they have and add some tomato sauce! It is a bit expensive, as with any pizza place that tries to accommodate vegans, but when you want some pizza here is a place you can find it.

Happy Curry:

This is nourishing and satisfying place to eat. It is a Nepalese restaurant located on the corner of Ferry and Church. It’s not what you typically think when you think curry, so even if you aren’t a curry fan I recommend you give it a chance.  The food is fresh, full of spices and delicious. Here you will go down the line and choose from rice/quinoa options, veggies, topping, sauces, and etc. It is a healthy choice with good-sized portions and I have always had happy and friendly service from them.

If you ever get a chance to speak with the owner it is an enlightening experience. He discusses how food should nourish and sustain the body while making you feel light and energetic. He is very passionate about the food he makes and you will understand why when you eat here and feel good afterwards.

LifeSource Buffet:

LifeSource grocery store is another one of my favorite places for vegan foods. It is located on Commercial Street in South Salem. They have flavorful choices served in a buffet/deli style. They have a cold and a hot bar with the option to eat there or grab it to go. It is a bit expensive, but it should be expected because they provide high quality and always rotating food options.

Marco Polo:

This restaurant has an enormous menu. The average price of an entree is about $12 or $13. I haven’t dined at this restaurant too much, but they do have good “global selections.” I don’t eat here much because a lot of there food is covered in sauce or lacks fresh vegetables. They do have lots of choices, but I wouldn’t say it is a high quality food option for plant based eaters.

Muchas Gracias:

Muchas now carries a vegan burrito (depending on the location you visit). They have locations off of the Parkway, South Salem, West Salem and on Capitol Street. They fill it with beans, rice, pico de gallo, and guacamole instead of cheese. This is a good option if you are in a hurry and need something for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Pita Pit:

Here you can get a veggie pita, falafel or black bean pita, all delicious and filling. You can even make it a salad if your prefer.


This is a funky restaurant located in downtown Salem and on Commercial Street. Their vegan choices are a little different at each location, the Commercial Street location definitely has more choices. I would describe Venti’s as extremely flavorful and just plain amazing options (for Salem of course). I highly recommend their yellow curry, vegan nachos (ask for extra “cheese”) or a vegan pizza. The downtown location has simpier options that include rice, veggies, curry and the black bean burger.

Venti’s is also known for carrying tons of local beers. Their location on Commercial Street is actually a tap house, which makes it extra fun.

Willamette University:

During the school year I highly recommend Goudy Commons (Rachael Ray from the Food Network actually went here on her $40 a day show). Goudy is affordable, but is also very high quality. They aim for healthy and local  foods with  a variety of different options  such as pizza, burritos, quinoa salads, hemp burgers, soups, and more.

Vegan, gluten free, soy free and vegetarian options are clearly marked here. Even if Goudy doesn’t show it on their menu there is always something vegan to eat. They also do a dinner that is buffet style, yum!

The Cat Cavern at Willamette is also an option, it is the same Goudy food, but less variety.

Desserts and Drinks

Ike Box:

Many coffee shops offer soy alternatives, but this downtown cafe takes it a step further and offers hemp milk too (try vanilla hemp in your coffee, you won’t regret it). If you have a sweet tooth they also carry vegan and gluten free cookies. Currently, other snack options include vegan and gluten free oatmeal, veggies with hummus, or chips and salsa.

The Gov Cup:

This place is another one of my favorite coffee shops, they offer a variety of milk alternatives for coffee lovers including hemp and almond milk.

Lucky Cat Bakery:

Kelsey Quinn is the girl to call if you need some delicious homemade vegan cupcakes, cakes, scones or pretty much anything that is sweet and yummy. She does special orders, and she comes highly recommended by me. Seriously, she is the girl I always call for chocolate and vanilla birthday cupcakes when I can’t find them anywhere else in Salem. I am just waiting for her to start bringing her goodies into local coffee shops…hint…hint… Currently, Kelsey is taking a break from taking special orders…Sad day… So she is not available to bake your yummy vegan treats. If she comes back to the bakery world hopefully I can add her back to this list.

Any vegan food places you know of?

If I missed any places feel free to add to my list. I love having more options!


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There is a spectrum of choices to make in life.

It is easy to live within the muted colors of the spectrum and become stuck believing there is only one right way to live, but there is so much color to live in.

You don’t have to buy two cars, a house, or have two kids, go to public school, believe in god, eat McDonalds, think the thoughts that have already been thought, join a gym, drink coffee, have a credit card…you don’t have to follow anyone’s example.

The truth is, there is no right way to live. There is only an array of different colors to reside in.

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“The European Union bans nearly 1,400 chemicals from personal care products because they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction. But in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration entrusts safety regulation of cosmetics to a private entity that is housed and funded by the industry’s trade association. To date, this entity has found only 11 chemicals to be “unsafe for use in cosmetics.” ”

-John Wasik, Washington Monthly


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