Aesop & Other Fables

Every morning I washed my body I felt guilty and a bit dirtier than the previous day. That was because I knew I was using products full of harsh chemicals that were no doubt damaging my body, the environment and also inflicting pain and suffering on innocent animals somewhere in the lifecycle of the products I used. I would spend a fortune on lovely smelling, nicely packaged chemically formulated thickeners, scientifically proven de-frizzers, whatever was shiny and new, I bought it. I was programmed to think “I was worth it”. The fact that I worked in marketing, you’d think I’d have known better. Every time I used them I suppressed any niggling doubts over whether or not they could be tested on animals. I reassured myself that we’d evolved as a race and that nobody tested on animals anymore. That was surely something that was outlawed in the eighties when Anita Roddick introduced Body Shop soaps in the shape of pandas and I would return my white musk body lotion bottles to the store to be recycled? Right? Wrong. I conveniently forgot, I became shamefully apathetic. There’s no excuse for complacency and in my lame defence I cited that I’d tried natural products, but they just didn’t work for my hair condition, my skin type, {insert additional excuses here}.

I remember packing for India and reading the suggested packing list and feeling confused when I saw “do not bring toiletries” it stated that they would interfere with the delicate eco system and potentially contaminate water supplies. Well I’d need my shampoo, conditioner and shower gel as a minimum and deodorant, sunscreen, insect repellant and body creams were all essentials…I was completely attached and addicted to products and the selfish security they provided. I was going to have to go cold turkey and it was extremely uncomfortable to ditch my chemical entourage of plastic bottles of lotions and potions. That first night our hosts explained how to take “a goddess bath” using two large buckets; one of hot and one of cold water, it was the most luxurious and sensual bathing experience of my life, especially after ten hours of dusty, travelling in the heat by train and 4×4 from Delhi to Dunagiri. Even when I awoke the next morning and saw that a rat had gnawed my bar of natural soap (which I obviously discarded) I had never felt so squeaky clean. There’s a strange irony that in the west we test on lab rats and here I was in the Himalayas being tested by a little ratty-visitor. I felt pure, I had no guilt in my luxuriating, I was free of the shackles of contamination and harsh chemicals. It felt amazing, I felt stripped naked, but my skin felt glowing and radiant.

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My Indian Bathroom, with goddess bath (buckets) and freshly gnawed soap.
I haven’t been able to replicate that experience completely but the closest feeling has been when using Aesop’s products. It’s flawless on every level. Beautifully designed products for skin, hair and body with quality,plant-based ingredients. Everything is vegan, so completely cruelty-free. Aesop is an intelligent brand and I’m in love with their marketing – from their newsletter “The Ledger” which is a cultural tonic not just a product plug-fest. There’s show-stopping store designs as well as “The Fabulist” which sits proudly on the website explaining to readers that it “is a literary gesture born of the enjoyment and intellectual nourishment Aesop derives daily through the written word. It features fiction and non-fiction by emerging and established writers across the globe whose work we admire, along with incisive interviews of extraordinary individuals”. Oh to be featured on there one day, as new-fangled and free-thinking…forget Pulitzer Prize I want to make it to be featured on “The Fabulist”! In the meantime it’s fair to say I’ll remain a devoted fan.

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The Fabulist is a fab publication on the Aesop website with fables, short stories and intriguing snippets of writer’s musings.
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