Ants, Exfoliation, and My New (Naked) Morning Routine
Jean Godfrey-June is our beauty director, but her enthusiasms are many.
Feeling good about ourselves—our bodies, ourselves, as the forever-classic brilliantly puts it—in a culture that reduces us to parts is a journey that’s best approached as a routine, like watering the plants, as opposed to an achieve-and-you’re-done destination like, say, a mountaintop.
We issue commands to our intellect to help us with self-acceptance and self-love (Embrace your size! Love yourself! Age is just a number! Feel empowered! and so on), but for me anyway, the mind often complies only in the moment, if at all. The intellect is where self-criticism resides, for sure, but I’m convinced that much of a person’s self-regard lives in the body itself.
Physically delighting in that body, rather than pondering its pros and cons, leads me toward self-acceptance. There is of course an endless range of physical delights in this world. A yoga class, a bath, a hard run, and—ever since my cat convinced me to—dry brushing all result, for me, in that every-nerve-ending-included body-sense.
Over the past few months, while sheltering in place, I’ve learned a few things that have only strengthened my conviction. One morning six or seven crows landed in my yard and crowded on the ground by a tree like passengers waiting in line for the bus: They jostled; they jockeyed, fluffed out their feathers, crowded into queue, and grudgingly took turns.
Was there water in the tree they were after? We looked, later in the day, and noticed a little water, along with a bunch of ants. Maybe crows eat ants? We Googled, and discovered anting: Crows are fond of standing on anthills, not because they like to eat ants but because they like the feeling of ants running all over their bodies. The ants, it turns out, release some sort of acid that softens the crows’ feathers (which, it seems, get itchy during molting). So anting, as it is officially called, seems to mimic the effects of, say, a nice exfoliation followed by a bit of soothing moisturizer. It is apparently so enjoyable that some crows exhibit addictive behavior toward it.
ALLOVER ANTING APPROXIMATION
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ANTING APPROXIMATION FOR FACE
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Shortly after the anting incident, I watched my brilliant coworker Megan O’Neill interview the brilliant author and doula Erica Chidi, CEO and cofounder of LOOM, an LA health-education company that focuses on periods, sex, pregnancy, and parenting, in an In goop Health session (you can watch it here—so good). I was appreciating Chidi’s stream of fantastic, resonant advice, when suddenly she said something so simple, something so seemingly obvious (to me in particular, as I spend my days writing about oils and creams) that just stopped me: Smooth body oil or cream over your naked body, every morning. Not in a sexual way, but in an I-am-here-in-my-body way. She suggested letting your children see you do it, to model self-acceptance and self-care; I instantly regretted that my children are (far) past an age where such a move might be considered appropriate.
It made such sense to me that I tried it the next morning. I did a brisk dry brush, then smoothed on the raw-rose-hip-oil-infused, black-pepper-inflected, ashwagandha-added-for-good-measure G.Day body oil—it leaves your limbs faintly gleamy and your skin supple, and it smells unbelievable—and stretched out in the sun for a few minutes.
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Do it for one day and I promise you will make it a habit. Your skin feels good, your body feels good, and you can’t help but realize how great your body is and how lucky you are to have it.
Note: If, like me, you can’t help yourself, switch up the oil or cream depending on your mood. The Organic Pharmacy makes an amazing detox oil, the new Mille Fleurs body serum from Sangre de Fruta is a faintly floral dry oil that sinks in like magic, and the body cream from L:a Bruket is the most gorgeous grapefruit.