That food can affect our health and beauty isn’t news.  Provocateur, a Manhattan nightclub in the meatpacking district, even introduced a cocktail menu of drinks with names like Watermelon Kiss and Sweet Enchant that “purport to smooth skin, plump it or improve it in other ways.” (“Improve Your Skin by Imbibing: Radical or Fadical?“, New York Times)
And the market for these “nutricosmetics” is expected to grow immensely around the world — from $1.5 billion in 2007 to $2.5 billion by next year (“Beauty foods for shiny hair and clear skin expected to grow around the world”, Independent.co.uk).
Interestingly, the demand for such beauty foods tends to come from the East.  We Westerners are generally more skeptical. Sure, there are a few brands like Borba out there that have experienced a modicum of success.  And this month’s Cosmopolitan published a piece, “8 Foods That Increase Your Hot Factor,” that suggests different foods like spinach, kiwis and pumpkins seeds can banish acne, keep that youthful glow or make your eyes brighter.  But as a market, we are way smaller than (behind?) our friends in Japan and Korea.
Why is that the case?  I mean, we buy such hype from so many beauty brands — promises of total make-overs, younger skin and sexier bodies in minutes!  So why is it so crazy to think what we eat and drink can make us beautiful too?
Could it be related to our culture’s complex (and sometimes destructive) relationship with food?  Is food so fraught with issues that we can’t add another layer of negative or positive functionality to it?
Or is it that we demand immediate results and we can’t necessarily see the effects of “beautiful foods” right away?  Then again, we don’t necessarily see results right away (if at all) with so many facial products we buy!  But we hope …
Perhaps it boils down the difference between the way Westerners and Easterners approach and care for their bodies. While we’re beginning to adopt holistic methods, we still view our bodies as separate objects that require fixing versus whole beings that rely on a delicate balance to maintain health.  And many things contribute to that balance, including what we eat.
Personally, I’m open to ANYTHING that will help me look and feel beautiful.  So what’s wrong with eating another kiwi or sipping on a mango-infused cocktail if there’s a possibility – no matter how remote – that I could look great as a result?!

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