I have signed up to participate in The Beauty of a Woman BlogFestII – Please visit this blog site. On Friday, February 22, 2013 links to all those who participated will be available. The links are up. Please go there and read the posts. You can like or comment on them and then place that in a comment on the August McLaughlin’s blog. Participants have a chance to win a Kindle Fire.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” –Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
When I was young, I couldn’t wait to wear make-up and have my hair done professionally. While I never considered myself beautiful I didn’t go out of the house without first making sure my hair was done and my make-up applied. I gave up my glasses for contacts. When I gave up working to raise my daughters, my trips to the hairdresser were less frequent but I wasn’t presentable until I had done something to my hair and my face. I made some of my clothes and did with fewer things so that I could have the luxury of being home.
Years later I went back to work, began seeing my hairdresser on a regular basis and starting getting my nails manicured. I started shopping for clothes that I could wear to work. More effort was put into society’s view that if we aren’t having our hair colored and cut, our make-up on, or dressed in-style, we could never be considered beautiful.
Ironically, this new-found freedom to spend more money on myself and my appearance came at a price. Shortly after starting my new job, I began getting sick. I became sicker and sicker, developed odd bacterial infections, developed bone infections, fungal infections, and ultimately developed severe sensitivities to chemicals, molds and food allergies. I had to give up all my nice new clothes because of cross-contamination of mold and mycotoxins at my workplace. I had to give up my contacts for glasses because the contacts and solutions made my eyes burn. I had to give up my hair color because of all the chemicals and my trips to the hair salon. I had to give up my make-up. Suddenly I didn’t look like the me I was used to. The me I presented to the world. Who was I? The me that I knew disappeared because not only did I give up all the beauty products and services, I was forced to give up many of the foods in my diet and the ability to go into stores to shop for clothes or lunches out with friends. Of course, this meant I had to quit work, something I was enjoying.
I felt ugly! My face was hidden by a mask, I wore glasses, I wore no color on my face, my hair turned gray, and my clothes became simple cotton pants and shirts. I felt like I had nothing to give, nothing to offer and hated the way I looked and the way it made me feel.
During many of my visits to the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, I met many women who I have become life-long friends with. These women were wonderful, compassionate, helpful and supportive. These women were plain like me. They didn’t wear make-up, they didn’t have fancy clothes, they didn’t have fancy haircuts or hair color, they didn’t have beautiful painted fingernails. But they were so beautiful. They had gone through so much illness, pain, loss of friendships, loss of belongings, and a loss of self. Yet these women offered themselves to me. They gave me rides if I needed, sat with me and helped me through horrendous reactions while skin testing, gave me a smile and a laugh when I needed it. They didn’t judge me by what I looked like, the dark circles under my eyes, my ugly gray hair, my glasses that hadn’t changed style in a few years or my lack of clothing style.
These women were beautiful from the struggles they had gone through, the defeat they had faced and the losses they had suffered. You see beauty is not on the outside, the perfectly coiffed hair, the meticulous make-up, painted nails or latest fashion. Beauty is in the soul, in the kindness and compassion that comes deep from within and shared with others. For all those women who have struggled, been forced to give up what society feels is beauty, and dealt with the pain of chronic illness (both the visible and the invisible), I say to you: “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL TO ME!” This blog post is dedicated to you.
Pingback: The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest II | allergictolifemybattle | sondasmcschatter
KATHY– YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD——— FOR YEARS I OWNED A BEAUTY SALON—HAD AN IMAGE CONSULTANT COMPANY—SOLD HAIR COLOR—MAKE UP—& TOLD PEOPLE HOW TO DRESS FOR SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!! AND I ALWAYS WORKED –& MOST OF THE TIME OWNING MY OWN BUSINESSES—WHEN I COULD NO LONGER USE HAIR COLOR—NO LONGER EVEN USE HAIR PRODUCTS—& HAD TO QUIT THE MAKE UP—THE NICE CLOTHES & SHOES—& I PUT ON WEIGHT—BECAUSE OF ALL THE HEALTH PROBLEMS—& I HAD TO SELL MY BUSINESSES BECAUSE I COULD NO LONGER WORK—IT WAS LIKE SOMEONE STOLE MY ID— WHO WAS I??????????? WHEN I STARTED HELPING HUNDREDS OF OTHERS WHO ALSO SUFFER FROM MCS—START THEIR OWN MCS SAFE HOMES—& MADE FRIENDS WITH HUNDREDS & HUNDREDS OF OTHERS WHO ALSO SUFFERED FROM MCS & STARTED SHARING THE INFORMATION I HAD LEARNED FROM EXPERIENCES—OF MY OWN—I FOUND MYSELF AGAIN—& I FOUND MANY HUNDRED OTHERS WHO UNDERSTOOD—AS THEY HAD BEEN THERE—DONE THAT & BOUGHT THE T-SHIRT—OR ELSE THEY WERE GOING THROUGH IT!!!! THESE ARE HONEST—SUPPORTING—LOVING—CARING—BEAUTIFUL MCS SISTERS!!!!
Thank you Sonda. I totally agree. There is comfort in numbers (not that we want that many to suffer as we do). There is comfort in knowing that you are not the “only” one and that there is someone who understands. They can offer support with the “been there done that” or just the “I understand”.
AMEN— I TOTALLY APPRECIATE YOU & YOUR KNOWLEDGE & SHARING & EXPERIENCES!!!
It’s remarkable how much we take for granted, isn’t it? The women you befriended during your healing process sound like angels. 🙂 Thanks for sharing them, their beauty and yours with us!
I thank you for the opportunity to share. I look forward to spending tomorrow reading all the amazing posts.
I’m excited too 🙂
True friends are the best and they are beautiful!
You have accurately described what every single woman who has gone through this kind of struggle. Every single emotion that women who suffer with chemical sensitivities was written about. This was an exceptional article & definitely written from the heart!
Pingback: The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest II! | August McLaughlin's Blog
What a lovely story of rediscovering what makes you truly beautiful and appreciating the same in others. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kathryn!
Thank you for reading my post.
Wow, This is incredible. You — and the rest of the women in this post — are fighters. And I love the way you all support each other. What a beautiful thing! Look at all the friendships that came out of that hardship. Would you trade them for some mascara? I’m guessing not!
No I wouldn’t trade them for mascara or hair color either. Thank you so much for reading my post.
Love the strength you portray from struggle–powerful message! 🙂
Thank you Coleen.
Well said. Thank you for sharing=)
Thank you for stopping by.
Bravery is never plain Kathryn. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.
Thank you. I appreciate your words.
Pingback: Beauty of A Woman BlogFest: Lessons from Grandma H | Kourtney Heintz's Journal
That was a powerfully moving story, Kathryn. You are a strong, beautiful woman who took a difficult situation and made it into an opportunity to help and connect with others. That is so awesome! 🙂
Thank you Misty.
Kathryn I admire your story and am so so glad that you were able to connect with and find support through the women at the EHC. What a life changing event! Most of us will never have to deal with what you went through, but you’ve certainly given us something to think about – how important it is to always be able to redefine oneself, to forget we are beautiful inside or not (whether we have manicured fingers or not), and that friends make everything better! Happy Beauty of a Woman blog fest!
Thank you Jess.
I had a great day reading so many posts for the blogfest. I hope you did too.
I’m so sorry to hear about all you went through. 😦 It’s unfortunately that no one talks about the risks of “beauty treatments.” Most of them aren’t worth it.
Kathryn, how lovely to meet you and hear your story. Friendship is such an important part of the beauty in life. Change and challenges appear from nowhere and you have certainly faced yours with courage and strength and the friends you made along the way sound magnificent … and beautiful. Whether we visit the hairdresser or not, has nothing to do with beauty. It comes from within always. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. Your story is another fine example of the beauty of this blogfest!
Thank you. The beauty of this blogfest is not only hearing all the wonderful posts but also meeting others and gaining a new perspective.
I’m still slowly making my way down the list of posts. Glad I didn’t miss this one, Kathryn. Thanks for sharing your story. It really puts all the societal emphasis on “making ourselves beautiful” on the outside into perspective.
Kassandra (lovely name by the way), thank you for reading my story. I have thoroughly enjoyed the stories and reading about the authors as well. I hope August does this again next year.
I think I was most struck by your description of losing your identity – how the one thing most women don’t want to be judged by – our outward appearance – is still so deeply tied to how we identify ourselves. Wow- so very powerful! Thank you for sharing your story and your absolute beauty.
Sue – Thank you so much for reading my post and commenting on it. Yes, we don’t want to be judged by how we look but when that is taken away so is our percieved identity.
I found this post particularly beautiful, because of the underlying strength it belies. Less extensive than what you’ve endured, but I had to completely change my diet and remove all chemicals from my environment to reverse infertility. I know to some measure what you’ve been through, and I commend that strength. Best of everything to you and your equally beautiful friends.
You have been through a lot as well. I have heard of others through my journey that have had similar experiences as you. I hope everything worked out for you. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind words.
I would love to follow along with you. How can I do that?
Thank you for asking, Kathryn. I actually wrote a follow-up post on my GlutenNaziMom blog with you and another boaw poster in mind (I was a little impassioned as I continued reading, and it began as a comment and turned into a full post). I’m at www dot WestCoastPosse dot com, and here’s the link to my health-related blog:
I hope you find what you are looking for, and I hope to help others like us in some small way.
I am signed up. Thank you.
Please help guide me. I am very sick from mold & MCS. I don’t know what to do. Please help
I am so sorry to hear this. What have you done so far?
Oh, goodness, Kathryn … My heart hurts a bit reading of what you have been through, and apparently still go through. The healer in me wants to help (I am offering up Reiki and energy healing; open and free of strings or restrictions), and my whole self empathizes, and the part of me that thinks hairstyles, hair color, makeup, and certain types of clothing contribute to making me who I am is shrieking with fear at the thought of such an illness. There is another part of me though, the minimalist who continues to emerge by degrees, who recognizes that, if push came to shove, I would thrive without the trappings, just as you are. Therein lies the real beauty.
I have done energy balancing (twice a week for 10 months while I was in Dallas for treatment and again twice a week for 3 months in 2005 while I was in Dallas). I just returned a few minutes ago from an acupuncture/osteopathic/balancing session with my osteophatic doctor. Calm and relaxed.
Kathryn: WOW! Amazing and inspiring story. It’s ironic how a tragedy or trauma can make you stronger, wiser — and thankful. I appreciate you sharing your story of strength and inner beauty.
Thank you Kristal.
Wonderful and beautifully said.
Thank you so much.
Pingback: Beauty of a Woman BlogFest 2014 | allergictolifemybattle