#SICK Looks Like Me

Lottie 1I was pointed to this blog post from a Facebook group I belong to: it’s by Lottie Ryan of Who’s That Lady For Women With Chronic Illness.

I wonder how many people will try to do this? Or how many will give up (before beginning) and say ‘too hard’? I wonder if it will make me feel better? Or if feeling better will make me want to try it out?

Have a read and let me know what you think…

One thing that Lottie is definitely correct about is that #sicklookslikeme.


The Revolution

I incite a revolution at the end of this post but you’re going to have to read it to understand the point, so grab a cuppa and dive in…




If so, then you’re going to get something valuable from this post, but if makeup, nice clothes, looking good and all that jazz aren’t your thing, and are never likely to be your thing, then you might just want to skip to the action in the last paragraphs.

At some point during my late twenties, early thirties, I stopped wearing makeup.

This happened at exactly the same time as I stopped being the real me and stopped valuing myself as worthy.

I’d stopped wearing makeup and fallen into the “I haven’t got the time or energy for that” thing or “No one needs makeup, I’m happy au natural”, which was really code for “I’ve stopped caring about myself, because I’ve forgotten my true value, and I don’t think I’m worth the time or energy”.

I also thought I had to look sick to be sick.

On top of the usual mommy guilt from which we all suffer, I had the added guilt of having birthed my children into a seriously ill situation knowing I couldn’t care for them as I wanted, and as they needed. I turned to my amazing husband (who never fails me, or them) and our parents to help, but with that felt a compelling need to ‘prove’ I really was as sick as I felt.

In addition I noted that doctors take a lot of interest in your appearance and on the odd occasion I’d turned up to clinic looking better presented their exclaims of ‘Oh, you look much better, I’m so glad to see things are improving’, despite my protestations that they weren’t, made things harder, giving me more reason to look sick to prove I was sick.

Then one day I realized I was deeply, heart achingly miserable and I’d started avoiding mirrors or any reflective surface as the sight that greeted me was just too depressing.

I’d become something I just wasn’t inside and if my chronic illness was indeed chronic and therefore for life I just couldn’t continue the rest of my life as the miserable, depressed, pale and wretched thing I’d become.

My marriage and relationships couldn’t survive me being this wretched person either. It was too depressing and awful. Oh, don’t get me wrong, my husband loves me with or without makeup, but there’s no doubt he finds me much more attractive when I’ve made an effort with myself, and why shouldn’t he? I certainly always wore makeup during the time we dated and was not pale and wretched-looking, so that’s not who he fell in love with. Nor did I walk down the aisle without makeup on, so that’s not who he married either.

I Can Change

I recognized that I couldn’t quickly, if ever, change what was going on inside of me but I could change how I presented myself on the outside and thus how I felt about myself.

Though weak, in pain, and truly exhausted there was definitely still a sparkly heart thumping in my chest, intrigued by all things bright, excited by small adventures and so very open to living a beautiful life despite it all. I needed others to see this person and recognize me for who I was despite my illness, and in turn that recognition might just bring me back to life.

The only person who could change this situation was me. I decided to stop worrying about others’ judgements and assumptions and go out shining as I truly am inside; to be authentic and acknowledge that how I look has no true bearing on how I feel.  Doctors and others soon got used to seeing me looking amazing but showing up in all of their tests as the sick person I undoubtedly am.

I went on a mission to redefine what sick Lottie looks like.

To start this, I started wearing makeup.

It was that simple.

There’s a lot of cynicism around make-up and modern beauty standards, but I’m of the opinion that we have this amazing tool at our disposal, to help us feel better about ourselves, so why not use it?

Women fought to wear makeup (seriously…read on)

It’s a fact that women fought hard for the right to buy and wear makeup without shame. It’s a right we sought alongside our right to vote.

Prior to around 1910 makeup was an ‘under the counter’ business, deemed fit only for ‘Ladies of the Night’. In the 1920s women demanded the right to dress and make themselves up as they see fit; relinquishing their corsets, showing their legs and wearing bold makeup with red lips and smokey eyes.

Makeup became widely sold over the counter and worn by the average woman. It has been a tool women have used to express their femininity and create the best version of themselves ever since. It’s an important part of our history and modern being, and I’m a big fan.

Wearing makeup again was just the beginning of my long journey, so if you recognize yourself as similar to the way I was at the top of this story, take hope in the fact that YOU CAN change back, or into the person you really are, with small simple steps that won’t overwhelm you.

Hopefully you’ve read my ‘5 Simple Steps to Better Mornings’ and started doing them. I know they seem ridiculous in their simplicity, but this is where I started and if my personal journey is anything to go by these simple things might just lead you to various adventures of a lifetime.

From Pilled Up to Pinup

If someone had told me 6 years ago when I started this journey that wearing mascara would be the start of my journey towards becoming a published vintage pinup model I would have laughed in their face and told them they were being ridiculous. I, a woman in her early thirties, mom of two toddlers, with BOWEL disease, fluctuating weight due to steroids, and a future filled with abdominal surgeries could not possibly be a vintage pinup.

Yet here I am:

lottie 2

Let’s Start A Revolution

Start small. Start today and then start dreaming about what you really want in your life, as these small steps WILL lead you somewhere great if you take action.

You can read my stories, my suggestions and my ideas all day, every day, but nothing is going to change unless YOU TAKE ACTION.

So, I want your help to start a revolution.

I want to change the way sick is viewed by people. In the 21st century people can live with a chronic illness and look fine. I could be in hospital almost dying and still look pretty good with my makeup on and my hair done (in fact I have been, much to my nurses’ amusement). Judgements based on looks are outdated, unhelpful and need to change, and I need your help to change them!

Go and ‘put your face on’, that beautiful face that mirrors your heart not your illness, and head out to shine despite it all, but first take a selfie – yep, I’m for real.

Lottie 3

We’re going to document this, and start a revolution at the same time. There’s power in a hashtag don’t you know?

When you’ve taken your selfie post it on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook with the hashtag #sicklookslikeme, then post it here in the comments too or, if you’re shy, come into our Facebook group and post it there, until you build your confidence to perhaps post elsewhere.

Are you in? I hope so as I can’t bring about this change on my own. This is all about team work and I want YOU on my team.

You’re never alone.

Lottie -x-

PS This is not a one-off, thing. I’m going to use this hashtag and work on this revolution for the foreseeable future. There’s work to be done! #sicklookslikeme


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  1. This whole idea is incredibly sexist and demeaning to women and I tke offense. No one should have to feel like they have to put make up to feel beautiful. Men don’t have to so why should we. I know I am beautiful and don’t give a crap if people think I look sick or not. So should you. It’s much more empowering.

    • The idea is to make us feel better about ourselves. It’s also to show people I’ll people can appear in many guises.

    • Maria, if you’re not over people telling you that you don’t look sick then this post really isn’t for you.
      I know that I’ve gotten so depressed about people not seeing me, not thinking I need help or treatment, that I’ve shaved my head so my outsides matched my insides – but I really shouldn’t have to…and that’s the point…sick can take many guises (thanks, Susan) and being made up is just another one!

    • Hi Maria, thank you for opinion. I hesitated to write this post because I knew it would bring out the ‘this is sexist’ comments, but it’s not remotely sexist. I am a feminist and yet I desire to look feminine, and for me, and for a lot of other women that includes wearing makeup. I don’t like this modern perception that wearing makeup, or wanting to wear makeup is sexist. As I point out quite clearly in my post women fought hard to have the right to wear makeup as pre 1900 men dictated that makeup was not ‘proper’ or ‘ladylike’ and was for ladies of the night only. This recent ‘anti makeup’ movement is ill considered has nothing to do with feminism.

      My point in this post is that I have a right to wear makeup if I so choose, and people shouldn’t judge my health issues based on how I look. I am in no ways saying that women should all wear make up. I’m saying that if you feel better wearing makeup, and you don’t wear it because you’re concerned about judgement then let the judgement be damned and go out feeling your best. There’s nothing remotely sexist about that. Plus, the #sicklookslikeme is for anyone who feels like their illness is judged by their looks, and that includes makeupless selfies too.

      I’m sorry you feel anti-makeup. It’s a shame as there’s a lot of fun to be had with it. Lottie -x-

  2. Would you be willing to take selfies without make-up? It took me about 5yrs after becoming ill to really get to the point where it became a choice of “do you want to go to work or paint a face for yourself?” and thus had to finally let it go. As it turns out, I have some mild chemical sensitivities and letting that stuff go from my daily routine has made my skin and hair much happier. I don’t really view it as letting myself go, per say, (because I was never my make-up) more like exchanging the old cosmetics with things that benefit my health inside and out.

    Sounds like you’ve got a good idea here, in trying to adjust society’s expectations of what being sick ought to look like. If you wouldn’t mind going a bit more radical and maybe trying to alter expectations of what women in general ought to look like, I’m in!

    • Hi Sara,
      It’s not my site accepting the selfies; it’s Lottie’s. Please feel free to contact her via the links in this post. As I said in a previous comment, I think the point is that sick can take many guises and being made up is just another choice! Choosing not to wear make-up is YOUR choice. I think it is the choice that is important – as opposed to the expectation that we need to look ‘sick’ all the time.

    • Hi Sara, my answer to your question is “Yes, absolutely, and I do (just check out my Instagram” (@lottieloves1). I live with a chronic illness so of course there are days when I have to choose to let things go, and one of those things will be makeup (though, for me, this is VERY rare).

      This post is not about dictating that women ‘should’ wear makeup. My point is that if makeup makes you feel fabulous, and you choose not to feel fabulous because of fear of judgement, then please let the fear of judgement go and go out feeling your best every day because you deserve it. People shouldn’t judge people’s health based on how they look.

      I understand the ‘beauty standards’ argument, but I’m a women who loves makeup and loves dressing up, and that’s my right. Of course, my perspective won’t resonate with everyone, but a great many women bolster their femininity with makeup and that’s okay as long as they’re doing it for themselves, and not to keep up with the crowd – something I never encourage.

      The #sicklookslikeme is to challenge perceptions of modern sickness, and will include makeupless selfies and fully made up selfies, I want women to present their best selves in that moment, however that is for them. Lottie -x-

  3. Thanks for sharing Sara, and I’m so glad that you get my point, and I hope to see a #sicklookslikeme selfie from you 🙂

  4. I too love my makeup! I was diagnosed with Fibro 2 years ago though suffered through the symptoms for 6 years prior to getting the diagnosis. I refuse to go out anywhere without “putting on my face” and putting up my hair :). No matter how long it takes me or how it hurts my arms to do it. I understand this whole point and am all for it, I think it is terrific and noone should feel they have to look awful just so others will see that they are sick.

    I have to share, a bit on/off topic….17 years ago, I had given birth to my 3rd child and on the day that I was supposed to discharge my F-I-L came to pick me up (husband was stationed in Korea at the time). Well, I had everything packed up, hair done, dressed up (had bought a new outfit for me and the baby) and makeup on to a T. Patiently waiting for the doc to make rounds and to discharge me. The doc walks in, looks around and asks, “Where did the mom go? I am here to talk to her so I can discharge her home.” I’m like, uh, well, she is sitting right here!. He tells me, wow you look really good to have just had a baby! So even doctors dealing with new moms in the hospital perceive us to look a certain way!…..I’m not having it LOL!

    But now I am old and wrinkly hehe….this was still a wonderful post, not sexist at all and who cares what men do or don’t do…heck, half of them don’t shower often enough, should we follow suit?? I think not!

Got an opinion?