AQUIS Unfiltered: Fumiko Takatsu
AQUIS Unfiltered is a series of honest conversations with strong women who share how they’ve evolved and come to embrace transformation in their bodies, their careers, and their lives.
Fumiko Takatsu developed the Face Yoga Method after surviving a life-threatening car accident that threw off her body symmetry. She is dedicated to helping people all over the world to look and feel their very best.
YOU ARE UNIQUE: A powerful message from my mother
“How can I be like other people?”
It has been my life long journey to figure out how to fit in and be “just like them”.
Growing up in Japan, in a rather homogeneous society, I often felt “different”. When I was younger, I did not understand why all my girlfriends wanted to play with dolls while I was so interested in playing with boys, collecting insects and building forts. I tried to fit in, but I often felt awkward. It was not an easy feeling, especially when I was young. However, my pursuit to fit in and understand who I am, has helped me create the life I have.
There are 3 major incidents I can recall that made me who I am today and helped me build my business.
The first was the message I got from my mother.
I still vividly remember the day I decided to ask my mother why I was so different. I was 7 or 8 years old. After coming home from school, I went to the kitchen where I saw my mother cooking dinner. My heart started beating really fast. I finally asked, “Mom, am I weird? Why am I so different?” My mother stopped her hands, kneeled on the floor, and looking me straight in the eyes said, “You are not weird. You are not different. You are very unique.”
I did not understand the meaning of “unique” but it sounded so uplifting, so good, so powerful and I loved it so much that I felt like I had gotten wings to fly.
The next day, when I went to school, I told my friends, “I am unique!”
The second incident happened rather unexpectedly.
I was teaching at a women’s college in Japan – a job that was perfect for me because even in traditional Japanese society, teachers are treated equally. I felt so free from the societal pressure most Japanese women feel to get married young and I used that freedom to liberate my students from their traditional mindsets. I loved my work and felt like I belonged.
At the time, I decided to go on vacation to the United States, and while I was there, I was in a near fatal car accident. I could have been killed on the spot. The trauma of the accident threw my face and body out of alignment. I was only 35 years old but began to see signs of aging.
At age 36, after my car accident
I started wondering how to make my face more symmetrical so it would look better. I tried all the expensive creams and facials so that I could get my confidence back. It was then that I realized that my body was always in good shape because of all the exercise I was doing: lifting weights, swimming and yoga. One day, I had a thought - I should train my face muscles to tone my face, the same way I tone my body.
That is how the Face Yoga Method was born. I started writing books, getting on TV shows, being interviewed by magazines and everything was finally ok. I felt great about what I was doing because I was using what was unique and different about me rather than hiding it away. I felt like I had found my “voice” through Face Yoga Method.
At the peak of my career, after spending years promoting the Face Yoga Method in Japan, I decided to move to the United States. Even after I felt ok with my uniqueness, there was still a part of me that wanted to fit in with traditional norms. I married my longtime friend, Henry. Everything was perfect. I was finally "just like them".
My journey did not stop there, however.
When I was pregnant with my daughter Nina, I found out that she had Down Syndrome. It hit me hard. All the years I wanted to be “just like them” and all the work I had done through Face Yoga Method, to finally feel comfortable in my uniqueness, had failed in front of my eyes. Not only was I a first-time mother, but having a special needs kid and raising her in a foreign country scared me so much. I felt so different and strange. I was mentally broken.
When I told my mother about my unborn baby with special needs, she said, “Well, the baby is so special, smart and unique because she chose you!”
That was the moment I promised myself that I would never, ever feel sorry for myself, for my daughter or for my life being “different”. I decided I would never try to be “like them” again. I promised myself that I would love my daughter the way she is. I decided I would love my life the way it is. Nina is my life. She made me the way I am. Finally, I am not afraid of being “different” or “unique”. I am embracing the way I am.
I receive a lot of messages from Face Yoga Method followers from all over the world. Their lives are changing. They are accepting who they are.
Running a very unique business, like Face Yoga Method, I get a lot of positive feedback from followers. But at the same time, I encounter people and comments that doubt what Face Yoga Method is and make fun of me or even criticize, not only the Face Yoga Method, but me personally. Do I care? To be honest, sometimes I do care, but because of these three incidents that happened in my life, I can say that I do not just accept my difference, but I celebrate it.
“Change your face, change your life” is the Face Yoga Method slogan. In addition to that, I also want to say, “change your mindset, celebrate who you are.”
***Pro tip from Fumiko: besides bringing her AQUIS towel swimming and to the gym she wears hers around her neck while sleeping to help prevent wrinkles.