I am pleased and honored to again participate in the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest hosted at August McLaughlin’s Blog (Please visit August’s site and read all the other submissions). To visit my Beauty of a Woman BlogFest post from last year, click here.
In going through my files on the computer recently I came across a file entitled “Tears of a Woman”. It was a video clip that I found and had saved some time ago because I thought it was so beautiful.
The words that are displayed as the music plays resonates with me; especially the following: “You see my son, the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, nor is it in her face or in the way she does her hair…The beauty of a woman resides in the eyes. It is the door to her heart; the door where love resides.
We are conditioned through magazine photo after magazine photo that beauty needs to be achieved through hair products, clothes, and make-up. It is hard to get through a commercial break on television without seeing an ad for beauty products. I bought into that in high school. I began wearing make-up. My freshman year I had to have the latest hair cut, the Sassoon. Of course the hippie culture was all around us and I began wearing less make-up but never left without blush, mascara, and lip gloss. My clothes weren’t department store fancy but they were my own creations. I had learned to sew in junior high school and a neighbor girl down the street and I would spend hours at the fabric store picking out patterns and trims. Some of the dresses I made were from these patterns (patterns that I can’t have any more but had my husband take pictures of for me).
As I grew older my amount of make-up didn’t change much. I did spend money on lotions and creams for my face and body. I spent money and time getting my hair done (highlighted or colored and cut). When I chose to go back to work, I spent more money on my clothing. My jeans, tees, and sneakers from time spent as a stay-at-home mom wouldn’t be acceptable in the “work world”. I was finding myself (or so I thought) and becoming more of a woman of the world. My hair was done, my clothes were new, I had new shoes, and even started getting manicures (including the infamous gel nails).
Suddenly all that changed! I was exposed to mold in my work place and I began to develop sensitivities to all chemicals. I began to feel ugly as I gave up my contacts for old glasses that I hadn’t worn in years. I gave up coloring my hair and getting it cut because not only could I not tolerate the chemicals in the hair color but I could not tolerate the salon either. I gave up my nice new clothes because they were contaminated with mold and mycotoxins and were making me ill. They were traded in for cotton clothing that could easily be washed. I gave up all my lovely new shoes for a pair of ugly white sneakers. And worst of all, I gave up my identity. Survival meant that if I were to leave my house for the doctor’s office I needed to wear this ugly charcoal mask that hid my face and all expression.
I was sent far away from family and friends to the Environmental Health Center in Dallas for treatment. What I found there surprised me. I was not alone! There were other women like me. These women were wonderful, compassionate, helpful, and supportive. They opened their hearts to me. The women also hid behind masks, sported uncolored and uncut hair, and wore simple clothes. Despite their lack of what the world tells us is beautiful, these women were beautiful to me. These women had gone through similar loss of health, loss of friendships, loss of belongings, and loss of identity. I was not judged by my looks. My unkempt and uncolored hair did not draw strange looks of disapproval. My mask did not draw fear that I was somehow carrying some dreaded disease nor did it draw the looks of sympathy that I had seen in the outside world.
These women were beautiful through their eyes and their hearts that they opened up to me freely and without reservation. Their beauty was in the kindness and compassion that comes deep from within. I have found this kind of friendship and compassion through this blog as well. It has come from women who know this struggle and from women who do not share my struggles but have reached out and touched me through their kind spirit.
Again, I dedicate this to all those women who have struggled to keep going and who have been forced to give up what society feels is beautiful. For all those women who have struggled, been forced to give up their identity through their clothes and cosmetics, 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 is dedicated to you. May your spirit continue to show through those lovely eyes of yours and pour from your beautiful hearts.