Beauty & Truth

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This week, I’ve been talking to you all about the ancient Egyptian idea of maat, which dealt with conceptions of balance, order, and truth. As with all the stories I tell, I’ve strived to come at it from a place of celebration, a love of beauty, and a simplistic honesty.

The quest for truth is a challenging thing. It’s been difficult for me to claim in this medium called blogging, especially as I have tried to redefine what this site means, making it about something greater, more important, and more interesting than simply myself. I’ve been writing from China this week, where censorship has made posting unbelievably challenging. I have to switch IP addresses with every paragraph, as I keep getting booted off each new server. Is aesthetic expression really such a threat? Well, personal truths do not seem to carry much weight here.

It makes me all the more grateful for the freedom I have to talk about what I want, to make the kind of work that I want. For the last two years especially, I’ve challenged myself to evolve this site into something that really matters, while still keeping things light and fun. But it’s not an easy thing to do online or in fashion in general, where thoughtlessness abounds, and both clothes and content are chewed up and forgotten infinitely more quickly than they can be made. I’ll spend eons prepping the various aspects of a post, only to have it devoured and disposed of in a day. That can be indescribably disheartening.

But I believe that change is possible, in much the same way that Maiyet believes it so. I believe that if I continue working tirelessly to create really elevated, consistent, custom content for this space, that people’s expectations of what it means to publish work online may one day change. That it will be afforded a real respect.

This is not a sponsored post. Very little of what I write is, although the fact remains that clothes ~ and therefore brands ~ are my beat. Because of that, I’m dedicated to finding, shooting, writing about, and featuring ones that genuinely intrigue me. And when paydays do present themselves, I say no far more often than I say yes. It’s a tricky balancing act, art and commerce. But I feel really happy to have carved out a platform and a niche for myself that affords me the ability to demand idealogical alignment from my professional partners.

I fought hard to produce a project with this brand and I spent weeks of work and a lot of my own money pulling it off. I share this with you only as a way of saying that truthfulness is important to me ~ not just in terms of transparency, but as it pertains to telling stories from an uncompromisingly honest, celebratory perspective. I have no interest in faking enthusiasm; I care about the work I deliver to you too much. And I’m proud to be able to say that I’m more in love with the process of creating content for this site now than when I naively, enthusiastically started it five years ago, because more than ever I can honestly say that I’m doing the work the right way.

I’m not perfect and I will never, ever claim to be. I constantly make mistakes but I do strive for excellence, both in my work and in myself and I, like so many of us, sometimes forget the importance of balance. One must always allow room for self-forgiveness and unapologetic enjoyment. It’s this exact ideology that Heather Lilleston’s business, Yoga For Bad People, is based on.

Yoga For Bad People is a retreat for those who want to escape and invest in their yoga practice, but have a raucous vacation at the same time. It allows for both downward dogs and daiquiris. It’s about creating an oasis for people who seek self-improvement with a hint of sinfulness, for offering personal progress while simultaneously celebrating the oftentimes fun fallibility inherent to being human.

I worship the energies that Kumi and Sian gave Jamie and me in their photos, but still there’s something extra special about Heather’s. She kills me in these images. She was so game for anything, so comfortable in herself and so unselfconscious in the way she shared that self with us. There’s a frankness in her face, a clear crispness in her eyes and an honesty in the lines of life that she’s not trying to hide. All of these things make her maddeningly, dizzyingly beautiful, a dream to shoot and a delight to share with you. I always feel so honored when cool, beautiful women trust us to style and photograph them ~ and Heather has set a bar for both beauty and coolitude that will be hard to beat. She is just too damned true.

Perhaps it’s the truth in Heather’s life and line of work that imbues that extra touch of beauty to these pictures. Ancient Egyptian literature is rife with writings that teach or debate how to ‘live in maat’ in the real world. A hymn from the time when Egypt was occupied by the Persians evokes ‘the beautiful face of Maat’ shining from the heart of the sun-god, Ra. The song urges its listeners to allow that goddess ~ the keeper of righteousness, balance, order and justice ~ to reside too in their tongues, heads, and hearts, so that they may be and do maat. It’s the sort of basic truth that myths conveyed so powerfully, the sort of truth that remains just as prescient and applicable a message to every one of us today. It’s what real beauty is all about.

 Truth + Beauty starring KumiSawyers, Sian Gordon and Heather Lilleston / Photography by Jamie Beck for Ann Street Studio / Written and styled by Kelly Framel / Hair and makeup by Ana Sicat / All clothes and accessories by Maiyet

See the entire series HERE