This month I joined the Chronic Illness Blogger’s Network. I am so proud to belong to this group of incredible people who write their truth. I encourage you to look into joining if you also blog about your experience with chronic illness. If you don’t, I encourage you to just check out some of the awesome blogs there. If you like what you read here, you are bound to find other interesting reads there.

It was through this group that I came across some women who blog about beauty in addition to their experience with chronic illness. I think this is fantastic – because ableism ensures that the general public doesn’t associate beauty and fashion with illness and disability. These women are blasting that stereotype out of the water. They point out that wearing makeup gives them control over their physical appearance (which is generally reduced by chronic illness) and allows them to be more confident when they go out into the world.

Recently, I was inspired by these ladies to wear makeup more often when I go out. Before I share how I feel about this experience, I need to come clean and say that I have never really been all that into makeup. Even when I wear it, I like it to look natural. These feelings are probably tinting my lens on this one. Still, I can’t help but want to share that despite enjoying the ability to take control of what others see in certain situations most of the time putting on makeup feels like crafting an elaborate lie.

Makeup makes my invisible illness all the more hard to see. Without it, in the first picture, my illness is not all that invisible, if you really look. My eyes are weary, with dark circles that reveal the fatigue that never leaves. My skin, which was clear all throughout my teen years, is broken out – a side effect of countless medications. That “glow” tells a story about how taking a shower throws off my internal thermometer for hours. It’s real, if not beautiful. In the second picture, with makeup on, you can still see the asymmetry of my face, accentuated by the migraine that forever plagues me, but otherwise I look much like any other woman in her 20’s. Sometimes, I really like that. I like blending in for a while, but at other times I struggle with it.

I am so glad to have experimented with this. Women with chronic illness can wear makeup, be interested in fashion, and be downright beautiful. Everybody, including me, should do what feels right with their own body. For me, going makeup free just feels more honest. So the next time you see me without makeup, it’s quite possible that I was just too damn tired to bother, but it’s also possible that I am trusting you with my genuine truth. Embrace it, please, but also embrace those disabled women who feel most themselves in makeup! When it comes to makeup, fashion and beauty – whether you are disabled or not, you do you!