Pictland’s Next Top Model: a ritual
Let’s do some shadow work? If you dig it, come on in the hut.
WARNING: This post will be a wee bit intense, energy-wise. If you aren’t feeling okay today, take some time away from social media before coming back here. I’ll be waiting for you, anytime. There will be positivity in it (body positivity, to be specific), but as I come from a spirit work background, I decided to add a little something to my “body positive” post, and it can be triggering if someone recently offended your looks and hurt your feelings.
Recover and get comfy again before doing any shadow work, take your time. Really! We all have moments in life when we’re feeling sensitive. I do, too, there is no shame in it. Shadow work is NOT helpful if you do it when you actually need nurturing. There’s a time and a place for everything. Just warning upfront that although the title of this blog post sounds empowering, it will not feel light and happy, and definitely not reassuring – but it can help you gradually free yourself from the *root* of the problem where your body anxiety is coming from. It’s a long term thing. I’m going really deep into certain taboos, so do come in here on a healthy state of mind. Likewise, feel free to do the ritual whenever you’re feeling cute and mentally relaxed. Definitely combine it with therapy or whatever else is helping
Phase one. Meeting the shadow: Ideal Beauty
Think of a pretty woman. No, don’t overthink it. Don’t be politically correct. This is not a test and you will not get an A for rejecting the “normie” beauty standards or an F for agreeing with them. If anything, I’d say the opposite is more accurate. If this was a test, I’d give an A to people who admit they were manipulated by the media (or peer pressure, whatever) and need help. Chances are, we all do. See where I’m going? Brilliant. I warned this would be triggering.
(No, I absolutely will NOT post photos of role models in here). Use your imagination! Don’t be distracted by photos, this is what fed your shadow in the first place.
Also, this may be unpopular, but I will not be gender-neutral here. We’re talking about a social problem that arises from a binary society. If you’re non-binary, wonderful, make yourself comfy, all are welcome to the Pictish hut! But do keep in mind societal and peer pressures (especially beauty standards) tend to come from a binary perspective, and it tends to be on the female side. Of course, this ritual can be adapted against male standards too. Feel free.
- Now, I want you to visualise this woman of ideal beauty in front of you. She is comfortable and unaware of you, she is a stranger to you and you don’t make any eye contact. You just observe her in detail, whereas she doesn’t mind. She cannot see you anyway. What does she look like? What details on her are the most desirable? Hold a mental image, but don’t give it any power. Don’t draw it, don’t look for women similar to her. Simply imagine. It’s ok to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Let it flow, don’t hold it back.
- Good. Now think of her less visually and more in terms of purpose. She is a part of you, but why does she exist? Does she represent an “improved” version of you, with all the bits you hate fixed? Is she the image of a celebrity? Is she personifying a challenge, like something unattainable for your physique? Would achieving it ease the social pressure? Would you feel safer on your skin if you looked like her? Observe your feelings as you answer the questions. Sadness, anger, frustration… But gradually, as you do this ritual again and again (on different days please, lol), she won’t feel as important to you anymore. She remains distracted, a bit cold and distant, unaware of your real needs. She can’t even see you! It is okay to desire to be like her, even after you answer the questions and have a clearer idea of where she comes from. This is a gradual process. Don’t beat yourself up for not detaching completely from her on day one. Hey, if you came this far you deserve an award already! It is not easy.
- If you work best by engaging with something physical, assign her a flower. What flower comes to mind when you think of her image? There is no need to tell me (but feel free). It can be intuitive, no rational reason. Good. From now on, every time you work with this flower, I want you to put it in a bouquet with many other kinds of flower (even if you just do it in your head, but feel free to keep it around physically if it’s in season). Pay close attention to how pretty they all are, how good they smell and how the contrast between them makes each one stand out.
Phase two. Body Art
This can be done from day 1. There is no need to be completely detached from your shadow or even completely in peace with it. Consider this phase of the ritual a “wee break” from the heavy work, but still aiding shadow work nonetheless. You’ll need body paint, natural or not. Use sharpies or anything non-toxic you have laying around. In case you need to go out immediately after, leave the visible body parts out of the ritual and cover all else with clothing once you’re done. My suggestion, however, is to do the ritual on a free day if you can (but do prioritise the healthy state of mind instead of your schedule).
Go somewhere private, make sure nobody can or will ask to enter. Doing it before shower is a good idea, maybe. Make sure there is a mirror where you can see your full body, or at least the areas you have a “problem” with. Also be careful not to stain anything!
Pick a colour and start by drawing on the body parts you already love (or maybe the ones you don’t hate too much), then go into the ones you’re indifferent with, the ones that look “not so good” and lastly the ones you wanna learn to love. I don’t care what drawing you make, but be sure to connect all of them somehow. Flowers are an easy choice, connecting body parts thru the long stems. If you cannot reach a certain body part you really wanna work on (back?), consider getting some powder dyes next time (washable, of course) so it can be just thrown on. As you do it, think not of body parts separately (you’re connecting them anyway) and not simply body parts. It is a canvas, it could be anyone, in any colour or texture – you just happen to be drawing on this one.
Tattooed people can definitely do the ritual!
This artpiece is binding you against the influence of the shadow you saw previously. Each time you repeat the ritual, you also repeat phase one – meaning, you’re setting free from the influence of a shadow, but it still needs to be acknowledged and understood anyway. If you started straight onto phase two, you’d be running away from the shadow. Not good.
The final artwork doesn’t need to last. You’ll wash it out eventually, but do look into the mirror. Look at the art. It mightn’t be a masterpiece, but was it fun!
Phase three. Picking a role model: part 1
This is the comfortable phase. The one everyone does and emphasises in blog posts all over the internet. Nobody wants to examine where their shadows come from, have flashbacks or experience a feeling of rejection all over again. I get it. But by starting on phase three, a lot of people are only addressing symptoms and never going deeper. In contrast, if phase three is done in the correct order, it helps build a sense of security on your own skin – but think of it as the roof, not the building blocks of your body positivity.
Aye, this phase relates to looking for people you can aspire to even if they’re outside the “universal” beauty standard. I don’t recommend celebrities, though. I respect celebrities and support them, but why rely on one only person when you can look up to a whole community. I might be biased here (you guessed it, I look up to Pictish women. Hence the title), but I believe it’s always healthy to look into your ethnic background, or even someone in your own family who actually inherited similar traits to yours.
Different people will have different ways to find role models. I’m white, I have privilege coz I can actually trace my ancestors to a specific place – and I can find tons of artwork in History that represents me, or at least something close. Maybe other races don’t have it as easy due to things like slavery and exploitation – but there will be at least one person you know in the world whose looks you could compare to yours.
Today’s beauty standards do have a heavy influence from white supremacist mindsets, definitely – but it has become a very specific thing in itself. In the 1800s all the white “role models” were depicted somewhat accurately, despite the makeup. Today if you aren’t artificially tan enough (not to be mistaken with a natural tan, coz racism) you’re outside the norm. If you’re white but have a flat nose, curly hair, aren’t tall enough, don’t have big boobs, and the list goes on… You’re still outside the standard. It’s ridiculous. This is the main reason I’d avoid celebrities on Phase 1. Coz even if you say “ok I’m fat, so I’ll follow Tess Holliday”… Tess has a thin nose and straight hair. She has a very obvious waist, her boobs are a certain shape. Do you? You won’t pay attention to these wee details on Phase 1. And they make all the difference.
So have a look into your ancestry. Where do your traits come from? Can you find portraits of ancestors? Were they in a tribe, in a palace, in a European village? Were they native to the Americas? There isn’t a need to do a thorough DNA search, but do look at the physique of people who came before you. How did they enhance the traits considered beautiful in their culture? Once you find it out, emulate it. Go look for clothes, accessories, makeup that remind you of your ancestors of blood. You’ll see how much easier it is to aspire to a beauty standard now. The universal one was never meant for you, and in fairness it looks so bland.
Feel free to officially “end” the ritual here, if you’re into ceremonial magic. My kind of magic has blurred lines when it comes to rituals. I could be in ritual for a month, in a sort of “standby mode”. But however you adapt it, make sure to REALLY take your time with looking for ethnic role models. If it takes a year, so be it. Whenever you redo this ritual (starting by phase one again…) always go up to here. When you’re satisfied with enough information about the culture you inherited your traits from, proceed a wee bit further.
Phase three. Picking a role model: part 2
NOW we can talk about celebrities. Pay attention to those who have similar traits to both you and your ancestors. They don’t need to be the same race or culture, as long as they look similar to something you could easily achieve. There’s no need to focus on cultural background in this phase, simply looks. Follow them on social media, share, give them support.
The “instructable” ends here. Now I’ll talk a wee bit about myself, what I mean by a “Pictish” look and how I found it out.
My own beauty standard
As I always say, and repeat, I don’t think I’m related to Irish or Scottish people by blood. My Pictish connection is completely spiritual. Nonetheless, I am the product of a mix of DNA that is pretty close to what the early Picts would have inherited, in their own day and age. Coincidence? I think not. So no, I couldn’t claim blood ties to anyone Scottish, but here’s the thing: Scotland as we know it today is so much more than Pictland. All the stereotypes we can think of for that country are contemporary to the Picts by at least 5 centuries. A lot can happen in 5 centuries.
I believe I reincarnated with a Pictish soul. So it is an ancient force “driving” a modern body. It’s a bit like running Windows 95 on a machine from 2019 – It works, but there are glitches. I couldn’t simply have the same genetic code of a person who lived almost 1,900 years ago (my soul) – so I just got something modern that emulates it somehow? Like an improvisation of a similar heritage? This is my logic, it serves me well for now.
When I started having visions of the Picts who help me, I noticed the women kind of had a very similar physique to me. Most had a different skintone, or hair colour, etc… but the more I looked at them, the more I saw myself somewhere in there. And I mean it physically.
Remember the engravings by Theodor de Bry? They’re very stereotypical, aye, no doubt. But he simply made it by following the descriptions of Picts in Roman accounts. So if you look past the weird accessories, the bright tattoos
that I don’t even think a modern tattoo artist could pull off, and other fantasy-like features… If you simply look at their body type, you can tell there’s a pattern. He lived in the 15th century and probably looked at women from Northern Britain at the time in order to collect inspiration for the body type. It is the only thing in his engravings that according to my spirit helpers is “spot on”. That is also what I look like.
The spirits of Pictish people and I often work together, but not all is serious work – we also chat, a lot. And they often give me compliments, which I kind of pieced together as a Pictish beauty standard. Here it goes:
Thin or oval face (that’s me, check). Strong thighs, the thicker the better (check). A big booty and small breasts (also check). Thick hair, a lot of it (check). Thin waist but prominent tummy that shows through clothing (aye, check). I used to hate all of these traits on me, because modern standards are different. I spent years wearing updos and starving myself. Now I absolutely love these traits and I even try to enhance them. Yes, all of them – but it’s been a process.
One influencer I look up to is Charli Howard (https://www.today.com/series/love-your-body/charli-howard-why-i-love-my-hips-after-years-trying-t115930), who happens to be British, but also Veronica Bonilla (https://www.instagram.com/brooklynpetite/) from the US. They both fit the Pictish ideal from head to toe. Beauty standards tend to be more cultural than genetic. Today’s world isn’t an exact mirror of a distant past, so people from all over the place can fit into a specific beauty standard. I’m not against standards, I think it’s healthy to aspire to something – but make it achievable, healthy and fun.