On March 4th, 2018, my mentor, Mary Elizabeth-Wakefield, jokingly threatened to strangle me if I continued to call my specialty “Cosmetic Acupuncture.”
With that kind of loving encouragement, I’ve been pondering this question for weeks – what should my work be called if it’s not “cosmetic.” I even blogged about it several days ago, just to get my mind working on it: https://foxhavenaesthetics.com/2018/03/08/is-cosmetic-facial-acupuncture-cosmetic/
Well, I believe the appropriate word as finally appeared. It’s similar, yet so much different. I’ve compared definitions and have shared the ones from Dictionary.com.
1.a powder, lotion, lipstick, rouge, or other preparation for beautifying the face, skin, hair, nails, etc.
2.cosmetics, superficial measures to make something appear better, more attractive, or more impressive:
The budget committee opted for cosmetics instead of a serious urban renewal plan.
3.serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face.
4.used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive, or more impressive:
Alterations in the concert hall were only cosmetic and did nothing to improve the acoustics.
You see, Mary Elizabeth doesn’t care for the superficial connotations of the “cosmetic.” Thus, she chose “constitutional” to describe her brand/technique – Constitutional Facial Acupuncture. Now, I fully agree that the concept of superficiality must be removed when talking about this type of Acupuncture work. It’s so much more than skin deep. But, in my opinion, today’s average American relates to the word “constitutional” mostly from a political sense. The word simply isn’t used much in contemporary medicine. So it’s less relatable. Plus, my own style incorporates more than just the Wakefield technique. I’ve studied under other teachers and intend to study under more. In that sense, the use of “constitutional” is restrictive in describing my own personal brand.
During my lengthy search, I came across another word. And it’s what I’ve been looking for – Aesthetic!
Aesthetic [es-thet-ik or, esp. British, ees-]
1.relating to the philosophy of aesthetics; concerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
2.relating to the science of aesthetics; concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
3.having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
4.relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.
5.the philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty at a given time and place: the clean lines, bare surfaces, and sense of space that bespeak the machine-age aesthetic; the Cubist aesthetic.
6.a particular individual’s set of ideas about style and taste, along with its expression:
the designer’s aesthetic of accessible, wearable fashion; a great aesthetic on her blog.
7.one’s set of principles or worldview as expressed through outward appearance, behavior, or actions: the democratic aesthetic of the abolitionists.
8.Archaic. the study of the nature of sensation.
Origin: 1795-1800; < New Latin aesthēticus < Greek aisthētikós “pertaining to sense perception, perceptible, sensitive” equivalent to aisthēt(ḗs) (see aesthete) + -ikos -ic
Yes! “Aesthetic” (also spelled “esthetic”) is my new word! And, I’m going with the British spelling because it alliterates so well with “Acupuncture.”
So with “aesthetic” as an adjective, there are connotations of beauty, the mental/emotional, and the engagement of the senses – all of which play a part in my work. My specialty isn’t just limited to the face. I’ve been taught techniques to address the breasts, abdomen, and buttocks. And, because this is Aesthetic Acupuncture, it engages the whole person on a deeper level – body, mind, and spirit.
I’m also loving the noun’s definitions. With this work, the patient and I are changing the set of principles governing beauty in our own American culture. I get to talk with my patients about their personal ideas of beauty and style; their principles and worldview regarding their outward appearance.
This work is sensual – meaning that activates the senses. I’m not limited to just Acupuncture as I work on a patient’s face. During an Aesthetic Acupuncture treatment, I can include Massage, Gua Sha, Cupping, External Qi Healing, Vibrational Tuning Forks, Herbal Facial Masks, Herbal Serums, Rose Water, Moisturizers, etc. – all of which engage and activate the senses. It tunes you into your being. It brings attention to your own capacity for sensation. It’s the opposite of “anesthetic.” It deepens the perception you have within and for your own body.
There’s no concept of superficiality found within “aesthetic.” In fact, it’s just the opposite. We’re talking about one’s inner thoughts and feelings being expressed through the medium of their exterior. That’s exactly what the fine lines and wrinkles on your face are! They’re the inner person reflected by the outer appearance. It’s so much deeper than “cosmetic!”
“Aesthetic” is the appropriate word. It feels right to me. And it rolls off the tongue – Aesthetic Acupuncture.
I found it. I finally found the word. That weight is off my shoulders.
And now…I have to completely rebrand. Pray for me! 😉