Meera Meera On the Wall

Like a fly, only Meera

Category: Beauty

Beauty and the Beholder

Lately, I’ve been rethinking my blog. I started it earlier this year because I was fed up with the negative way that beauty is presented to us and, as a result, how we end up looking at it ourselves. Beauty is packaged to us as something that we all want to achieve, but in the process causes us to be so racked by insecurity, resentment and self-loathing, that we end up missing it altogether. Who wants that?! Apparently, most of us. We all want to look like somebody else, some unreal, unattainable ideal that we know we can never be. We also end up tearing down not only ourselves, but those around us who don’t meet those ideals. It’s an aspiration that breeds a negativity that’s toxic to our self-esteem – I gotta say, that doesn’t seem very aspirational to me. But we still get sucked into it, because that’s the prevailing mentality.

So I started my blog wanting to engage in an alternative dialogue on beauty – one that’s inclusive and individual, that encourages us to pay attention to what’s beautiful about ourselves rather than wanting to be beautiful like other people. In the last few months this intention has fallen by the wayside a little, so I’m bringing it back on track for the new year. Hopefully this’ll be a regular feature – I’m going to start with myself, and I look forward to talking to all the beautiful people I know and enjoying a different perspective on beauty.

Testing, testing…

Me - the crash test dummy

How do you define beauty?
To me, beauty comes from being the best version of yourself – taking care of yourself, inside and out, being kind (it shows on the outside) and being genuinely self-confident. I also find imperfection really beautiful – ‘interesting’ is far more beautiful than ‘flawless’ because it’s multidimensional.

When do you feel most beautiful?
When I’m kind to my body and myself – living a healthy lifestyle and being in good shape are important, and being at my best intellectually and professionally. Knowing myself from the inside out lets me focus on how to be the best ‘me’, as opposed to aspiring to be like anyone else – which inevitably depresses me. I also love my beauty routine, so clear skin and good makeup also don’t hurt!

When do you feel least beautiful?
When I’m not being good or true to myself. Being lazy, physically and mentally, makes me look and feel stagnant. I had trouble with my skin this year, which made me feel horrible – but honestly I felt the worst when I beat myself up about it.  On the whole, this has been a really tough year personally and professionally and my self-confidence has taken a real hit so I feel far from beautiful. I’m working on that.

Who is the most beautiful person you know? What makes them beautiful?
I’m lucky to know a lot of incredibly beautiful people – the most beautiful are self-assured and kind-hearted. I’d love to know how they get to (and maintain) that state, so I’m really looking forward to exploring their perspectives via this feature on my blog.

Any must-have beauty products?
I’m a total product fiend, whether I need it or not I can’t get enough of the stuff. I do have some staples though:
Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs and BHAs) – a good skincare routine is crucial, beginning with knowing your skin type well. I swear by A- and BHAs to gently exfoliate the skin on a daily basis; they are non-abrasive and clear the skin, fade marks and promote cell regeneration. My favourites are Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion and Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir .
Concealer – my skin marks easily and I’m prone to dark circles, so I depend on good concealers. For blemishes, formulas containing witch hazel and salicylic acid are perfect multi-taskers. Under-eye concealers should be emollient, so as not to tug or dry the delicate skin, and illuminating to brighten dark areas.
Green tea – This is my go-to drink and I would definitely consider it a beauty product, as it’s so good for the body. I’ve discussed its benefits at greater length in a previous post.

What’s your best beauty tip?
Be kind to yourself, be healthy and stimulate your mind, but don’t try to change. Just work on how to be the best you can be – for you, not for anyone else. Aesthetically, know how to enhance your own beauty by playing up your best features and using products that agree with your skin type and colouring.


Merry Christmas!! I wish you many things for a great 2012 but above all, health and happiness. Love, Meera xx


MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural

I loved this powder – its matte-yet-glowy finish is so lovely, and Medium-Dark is the perfect elusive shade for my neutral-toned skin.

Because I love it so much, I’m so disappointed I’ve had to stop wearing it. I realized only after I bought it that it contains bismuth oxychloride, which is a known skin irritant, but I liked the finish so much I decided to power through and hope I wouldn’t be affected. For the first month my skin broke out in lots of little bumps, which I could live with, but now it’s gone full-blown cystic so I’ve had to call it a day. I took it back to my local MAC counter and when I explained that the product didn’t agree with my skin, they were happy to refund me.

Meerating: 2/5

Health and Beauty Benefits of Green Tea

I recently read a great article on about green tea which I wanted to share. I’m such an advocate of drinking green tea that I’d recommend it to anyone as one of the best and easiest steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

The article tells us that green tea is said to possess anti-ageing, metabolism-boosting and cholesterol-busting properties that help to keep your body healthy and trim. I can’t tell you for sure if this is true – I’ve been drinking a lot (up to 5 cups a day) of green tea for over a decade, so I wouldn’t be able to confirm noticeable results from a comparative viewpoint. However, based on my natural and genetic predispositions towards a number of health issues, I surmise that green tea has made a huge difference to me.

Firstly, no one in my family is genetically blessed with a naturally fast metabolism – if you want to be slim, you have to work hard for it. I have a very healthy appetite and have always been a bit lazy on the fitness front, but up until recently I’ve got away with it. My family has always been baffled by my frame, which, genetically, should have let me down by now. In light of this, I attribute my metabolism to my regular green tea intake. As for anti-ageing, I’ve enjoyed respite from afflictions that have plagued many members of my family from a young age, and although I’ll be thirty in a couple of years I still get sternly mistaken for a teenager when I try to go to the movies or buy a bottle of wine. I’m also a fan of skincare products that contain green tea which, used topically, is a potent antioxidant and defends skin from environmental aggressors. My skin always looks and feels better when my skincare regime includes green tea. Aside from the aesthetic benefits, green tea also benefits the heart by lowering cholesterol and it strengthens bones, protects internal organs and will keep your mind sharp.

I couldn't fake this if I tried - a picture I took recently of a particularly happy cup of green tea.

Obviously, there’s only so much that leaves steeped in hot water can hold at bay and now I’m finally embracing a more active lifestyle. Even though I have a serious weakness for cake and something of an aversion to my running shoes, I’ve always believed that we have to be conscious about what we put into our bodies – and as far as that goes, green tea is an excellent choice. Here are a few of my own tips, which I follow for best results:

Tip: Add a slice of lemon to your green tea. Vitamin C aids the body’s absorption of goodies, whether from green tea, daily vitamins or any healthy meal. (Bet Popeye wishes he knew the difference a glass of OJ would have made to his can of spinach.)

Tip: To avoid the bitter taste green tea can have, don’t use boiling water – especially if you’re adding lemon. I always pour in a bit of cold water first then top it up with hot water.

Tip: Drink green tea with fatty food. The antioxidants in the tea will help to counteract the damage to blood vessels that occurs after consuming a high-fat meal.

Read more about green tea and its uses in the article, and get brewing!

L’Oréal Studio Secrets Professional Color Correcting Primer in ‘Apricot’

Too orange and too oily! Definitely not suitable for my skin type or skin tone, it didn’t look good on and broke me out afterward.

If you have dark, dry skin that needs brightening, this might do it. Or it might make you look like Snooki.

Meerating: 1/5

Operation Bikini – Day 4

I just realized I forgot to include my waist measurement at the start of this week – whoops :s I’ll add it to the stats I posted yesterday and re-measure at the end of the week, doubt it’ll change all that much.

I was fairly stiff yesterday and thought I could do with some stretching out, so I opted for power yoga which fairly wore me out although I didn’t feel like I achieved that much. I think I just hit a wall where I had to stop rather than overdo it. I’ll pick it up again today and see if going gently gets me further.

With regards to diet, I’m realizing that I do best throughout the day when I start with a filling and energy-packed breakfast – yesterday’s oatmeal and blueberries didn’t quite cut it for me and my appetite was erratic throughout the day, so I’m back to the banana and peanut butter variety today. As I mentioned in my video, I’m really feeling those cravings at the moment and there’s a box of brownie mix I’m trying very, very hard to ignore (I swear I can hear it knocking against the cupboard door). The deprivation is getting to me, so I treated myself to a big, fat, sweet – date. Like the dried fruit, not dinner-and-a-movie. Unsurprisingly, it was quite underwhelming.

So, today:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with banana and PB

Snack: Almonds and a date

Lunch: Brown rice, mackerel, steamed veggies and edamame.

Snack: Nothing that will satisfy me

Dinner: Baked sweet potato

I’ve been advised by a dear reader (thank you, Asif!) not to work out today – tempting, so tempting! I’m reluctant to limit myself to yoga again, but it’s been raining all day again so I may not have a choice. All the more reason to sit here hugging my hot water bottle…

Update: Well, I caved. I can’t tell if I was just craving or actually hungry, but either way I had to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (in a wholewheat pita pocket, so it’s not a total bust). I really can’t work out today either, I’m feeling too under the weather – will still attempt some gentle yoga later. Oh, this is a disaster 😦 I hope tomorrow will be more productive (or reductive, as it were).

Beauty Booster

Apply eye cream only to the orbital area (the bones around the eye socket – above your cheekbones and under your brow bone), and avoid going too close to the eye. If too much product is absorbed by the  delicate skin around the eye, it can end up giving you the puffies instead of treating them.

Operation Bikini: Day One

In just over a week, I’m going to be on the beaches of Barcelona with my girlfriends, all three of them who look like they belong in a Lynx ad. Whether I’ll be frolicking gaily in the surf or sat sulking in a towel-swaddled heap will depend on the outcome of Operation Bikini: after a sedentary summer of self-indulgence, I’ve suddenly found myself in a panic at not being bikini-ready. Although until recently it looked unlikely that I would be able to make the trip, now that all systems are go (with a week to go), I’ve set myself a goal to fit into my too-tight bikini by the 1 September.

I’ve upped the ante on the challenge by pursuing a healthy approach ie. not panic-starving myself for the next week. I’m going to shed a layer through eating right and exercising every day – I’ll only deprive myself of my biggest vice, cake, but that aside I won’t modify my existing diet too much.

In case that sounds too optimistic (or delusional), I’ve also enlisted a bit of extra help that’ll hopefully help kick my butt into shape. I’ve heard a lot about Rodial Crash Diet Sticks and I’ve always been curious, so this week will be an experiment into whether these self-proclaimed “miracle sticks” are as good as their hype.

First off, “Crash Diet” is a bit of a misnomer – it implies something drastic, when in fact the only reason I considered a product like this is because it contains only natural ingredients that stimulate a sluggish system. Packed with metabolism-boosting caffeine (derived from green tea, guarana and green coffee,) diuretic cactus fruit and ash tree, and detoxifying dandelion and fennel, it’s supposed to offer a perfect last-minute solution to shedding a few pounds. In theory, over the next 7 days (2 sachets a day), I should be “sipping [my] way to a faster metabolism and draining excess water retention and burning fat at the same time”. Sounds too good to be true, but I’ll keep you posted over the course of this week.

As a supplement, this probably won’t be much good if I’m not putting in the hard work – diet and exercise. For the next week, I’m going to do 1-2 hours of running, skipping and yoga every day. I might even throw in some Zumba and resistance training to mix it up. My diet will comprise low-G.I. foods that’ll keep me going for a long time and eliminate cravings – I’m a serial snacker prone to sugar crashes, so I’ll aim to stick to a healthy meal plan that keeps my tummy full and my energy levels up.


Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas, peanut butter and honey

Snack: 5 almonds

Lunch: Grilled pork and veggies

Snack: Watermelon

Dinner: Mackerel, brown rice and edamame

Dessert: Chopped peach and probiotic yogurt

Ideally, I’d have the brown rice at lunch so I’m not packing myself with carbs before bedtime, but my mama is cooking lunch today so I’m not going to be a diva. I’m sure there’s plenty that a professional would find wrong with this meal plan, but this diet isn’t about being militant – it’s about being the best version of me under regular circumstances. I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂

Starting stats:

Height: 5’7.5/175 cm

Weight: 56 kg/123.5 lbs

Bust: 84 cm/33 in

Hips: 90 cm/35 in

Butt: 101 cm/39 in

Thighs: 57 cm/22 in

Update: I caved before lunch and had a couple of rice crackers. Also, lunch had too much salt and more than a little fat. Great start – I might need to rethink the brown rice after all.

Beauty Booster

Vitamin C aids the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Include citrus in nutrient-rich meals, take your daily supplements with a glass of orange juice, or pop a lemon slice in your green tea to get maximum benefits.

Light and Loveliness

I had to share this wonderful quote by Roald Dahl that I read in this month’s issue of Vogue:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and sticky-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

Carry this thought with you like a charm and always feel your own beauty within. Inner beauty never goes unnoticed. Call it a glow, an aura, whatever you like – it emanates something enchanting and contagious that physical beauty can’t rival. I always remember a girl I went to school with who captivated me simply with her serenity and sweetness – she was quiet and shy, and probably thought not many people noticed her, but her loveliness made a huge impression on me. There’s no faking genuine goodness – people with pureness of heart make the world a happier place by spreading that warmth to those around them.

Another enduring impression, for entirely the opposite reason, is the worst piece of advice I was ever given: after an encounter that left me feeling a little low, someone said to me, “The problem is you’re too nice. If you want to get on in life, you need to stop being so nice.” That sentiment was enough to jolt me out of my malaise – “stop being nice”? It’s so easy to get cynical and jaded in a world that encourages us to get ahead, and even in that moment I had no intention of being a part of that cycle. As far as I’m concerned, there aren’t enough ‘nice’ people in the world; I hold those precious few very close to me because they make me want to be a better person.

One of my own defining traits is a child-like perspective of life that I’ve retained – my enjoyment of simple pleasures, my sense of humor, my sense of right and wrong, my discernment of character. Though not always practical, my inner child is an aspect of my character that I’ve been consciously protective of in my adulthood because it affords me a simplicity of outlook of which we can be so easily robbed. It doesn’t necessarily make me a better person, but it does make me happy when my enthusiasm rubs off on others – it makes me feel like I’ve spread a little light. If you also feel like you have a light inside you, don’t hide it under a bushel – instead, cherish it, nourish it, and share it, just like Roald said. Take it from me: if it’s good enough for the kids, it’s good enough for us grown-ups.

Political correctness gets lippy

I paid my local Clinique counter a visit yesterday and got chatting to the manager, who told me that she’d had complaints about the brand’s newest range of lipgloss: a chunky crayon called the ‘Chubby Stick’. The complaints had come from customers of no particular shape or size, and we could only surmise that they pre-empted any offence that may be caused to individuals who might take it personally – although quite why anyone would compare themselves to a crayon, I don’t know. I’d always thought the campaign for that product was particularly cute, and it had never occurred to me that it would offend anyone.

I’m the first to jump to the defense of anyone who is being maligned or discriminated against – but in instances like this, surely there would be no issue if someone hadn’t created one. A song lyric comes to mind: “don’t start nothing, it won’t be nothing.” Or, as the indignant counter manager so adorably put it, “I’m chubby! I don’t mind!”