I am vain. Generally I like how I look. Not beautiful, I am grateful to my mother (who was beautiful) for giving me a decent face. That face is now quite puffy and I can no longer fit into much of my wardrobe. I waver between extreme self-consciousness and forgetting about it until I look in a mirror or worse see a photo or video of my puffed-out, hollow-eyed self. The longer I live with the puffy face and body the more it’s become the new normal. Sometimes that just depresses me. Sometimes that helps with acceptance.

Illness and its treatment can alter your appearance until we don’t recognize who that person in the mirror is any more. It can make you gain or lose too much weight, drain your complexion, cause dark circles under your eyes, make your hair thin out or fall out completely… We feel we look old before our time. Make-up is a girl’s best friend but you can’t hide everything under concealer and blush. All of it can do a number on our self-esteem because we are attached to how we look. That’s not being vain, that’s being human!

What helps with acceptance? A huge thing for me is how kind and supportive people are. Family, friends and clients let me know the change in my appearance doesn’t matter to them. In the last few months I have heard several versions of “I know you are going through a hard time, I see it, but you are still beautiful.” Even when I am not in the mood to believe it, I feel their sincerity, the kindness. Allowing it to sink in makes me feel all warm and good inside.

How do you handle the changes in your appearance as a result of illness or treatment? Please share your wisdom or frustration! It’s all good!

Side bar!  A friend who knows how my puffy face makes me feel bad told me about Ashley Judd. She went through some very public criticism for her puffy face, the result of having to take steroids for an illness! She is very articulate about how the change in appearance can be criticized by society and how cruel that is towards all women!