I'd like to dedicate a post to the alternative.
I don't think of myself as alternative. I think of myself as healthy. I think of myself as reasonably stylish (to various degrees, depending on mood, occasion, states of readiness).
But then again. I like to take inspiration regarding health and wellness from online communities, usually from people who live in California, to which I've never been, but, from what I can tell, has a vastly different culture to the one I know, and is full of a lot more extreme lifestyles and habits. I love doing this, with a passion.
But, I can tell you now, it's not normal. Not here, in my hometown, at least.
I'm also a Social Anthropology graduate. That is, I studied the 'different'. Anthropology opens your eyes to the possibilities of living in the world... almost everything we think of as being innate to our being can pretty much be contested with an obscure example from an anthropological study.
Take your vision. We live in a world where aesthetics, whether we like it or not, are paramount. Whether we give a shit about the way we look, our surroundings, etc. - unless we have a disability - we consider vision to be our primary sense. It's how we connect with the world. It's how we make sense of it. Think about it.
I mean, how else, right?
Take the Onge people of South East Asia. They manoeuvre the world using their noses. Their sense of smell is their primary sense for connecting and understanding the world around them. Instead of saying "how are you today?", their equivalent is "how is your nose today?", and they describe things in terms of having a heavy or light smell.
Well, the first time I heard that, the world as I knew it turned upside down. Amazing. And, on a three year degree, it was one of many.
Yes, I like to consider the alternatives to the 'every day' life I'm confronted with in my hometown. And back to health: I do live an alternative lifestyle when it comes to my views and how I care for and nourish myself. Living away from the city, and meeting new people in a small town, I am reminded of just how unusual my habits and outlooks are (though, maybe it is different in California?)
And you know what? It can be pretty lonely. Not enough to make me move back to London, but still.
As a future Ethnobotany Msc student (the study of plants and human culture... I just received my acceptance today!) I am fascinated by plant use and properties. So, in a twist from academics to celebrity culture, I was thrilled to read about the actress, Shailene Woodley, in Gawkers 'Your Guide to Shailene Woodley, America's Sacred Moonchild'. (Yes, I did watch 'Secret Life' until it got too bad to continue, but I though she was awesome in it).
Here's someone, my age, firmly entrenched in Hollywood culture, yet who goes foraging for wild herbs and mushrooms, makes her own toothpaste, has a herbalist, talks about Gaia, the meaning of aloha, and feels connected to nature and, in particular, woods (I hear you, Shailene). She wears second hand clothing, rather than mindlessly consume. But, to me, critically, she still looks glamorous while being so ... alternative.
I love it. Embrace the earthly spiritual eco chic - and look red carpet hot while you're at it.
Yes, she sounds like a giant hippie. And I love it. As an introvert, I love to embrace nature. I love the natural, wholesome and 'different' to conventional society. Maybe because I've spent a lot of time around people like this at my hippie university. But maybe because it's a part of me, just not so obvious. But if Hollywood brings out more of this? I say bring it on. If there's one thing this earth needs, it's more tree hugging, Gaia-loving hippies.
Note to self: embrace the alternative.
So, thank you Shailene.