Why I Still Want to Look Beautiful, Even Though I’m Dying. Like many other 25 something year-old woman I enjoy a fresh coat of MAC lipstick, the perfect pair of boots from Dr. Martens, and a trendy handbag that has just the right touch of vintage flare. Like them, I crave a night out in the city, get excited over scouting the mall for a new chunky sweater, and never fail to be thrilled by the perfect application of wing tipped eyeliner.
Reality is though, I have some pretty extensive differences — just a few tubes a fatal diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that will more than likely hinder me from reaching the age of 30. But hey, underneath all that I really am pretty similar! Similar to those other girls you see at the make-up counter buzzing about their new brow pencil, or the date they had last night with that cute guy from the gym.
When passerby sees me out and about, I swear they think I am lost on my way home from the local emergency department. I don’t receive the coy stares where an observer blushes and quickly diverts their attention. No, No, I get the horrendously obvious gawks that may send the poor, confused individual hurtling into the pole in front of them.
I can’t blame them though, if I saw someone who looked like me I would probably stare too. Who am I to be offended by their awkward gape when I am guilty of the same crime? I have more than once caught myself gazing a moment too long at an eccentric hair color, interesting outfit choice or make-up fiasco. I know their stares aren’t meant to be scrutinizing, but are born out of pure curiosity. I honestly do often look quite out of place.
I think what throws onlookers off the most is my evident normality in outfit, hair, and make-up. In many people’s minds, seriously ill patients are over the age of 60, live in hospice, and wear nothing but pajamas — heaven forbid they throw on a coat of mascara!
I mean what would be the point? Dying sucks, why glamorize it? It is a good question. A realistic question. Why glamorize this dying body? Why not have my outward appearances match the ineffective and worthless organs that reside inside me? It would take a hell of a lot less effort on my part!
You have no idea how long it takes to cover up the permanent dark circles of an exhausted, under oxygenated, malnourished insomniac! I probably spend more money on color correcting under-eye pens than most people spend on their cars.
I still want to feel beautiful when I leave my home, and feel assured that my outward appearance reflects my personality. I never used to leave my house in grungy sweatpants with no make-up and disheveled hair before I was ill, so why would I now?
My fatal diagnosis didn’t steal my disposition, it just stole my body. I am the same vivacious, stubborn, charismatic, witty, person I was before illness struck. The same woman who adored getting dressed up, or experimenting with a new pallet of eye shadow. The only difference now is that I am attached to life sustaining medical devices.
So yeah, while it is a lot of work, and looks downright unusual, I primp my dying body because it reminds me that I am still me beneath it all; that I am still that young woman in her mid-20s just trying to enjoy life.
It feels good looking into the mirror to see a polished face and a well-put-together outfit below my oxygen cannula, scars, and protruding tubes.