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.