I Wear Makeup to Feel Healthy, Not Pretty


It sounds ridiculous, and as a 30-year-old, I actually feel ridiculous writing about this, but I just have to. I have to because it’s more than just about makeup. It goes deeper — deeper to a different kind of level and a different kind of difficulty that’s associated with people who live with invisible illnesses. 

All illnesses are hard. What I think is most hard are ones that are invisible. There are illnesses other people have a hard time understanding. They don’t see the constant psychological and physiological struggles people go through day in and day out.

I personally live with a few illnesses myself, including on and off depression and anxiety and the biggest one is my rare heart condition, tricuspid atresia.

On the outside, I look completely “normal.” To others, I look completely, healthy and happy. But if you wipe away the makeup I put on almost every morning and that pretty pink blush I almost never leave the house without on my cheeks, I look sick, tired and like there’s something wrong with me.

I know a lot of woman who joke about how they look “tired” without their makeup on, but it’s different with people who are actually constantly tired and are sick. It’s that depressing “I don’t feel good about myself, I don’t feel pretty today” feeling and taking it a few notches deeper.

Without it on, it’s more of a realization and reminder that I am sick.

During my 10-day hospital stay after my last open heart surgery (the fourth one I’ve had), I could barely walk five feet without being out of breath two days in. But before I would even have considered getting up to do my “daily” walks I had to do that one thing first: Put on my makeup. 

I’m sure I looked pretty ridiculous — a 25-year-old woman who just had major open-heart surgery — and here I was concerned about what I looked like. Most people might chalk it up to being superficial, but it wasn’t that and it never has been about that. It was and is about feeling healthy, even though I’m not healthy. 

When I meet people for the first time and they hear I have a heart disease (and that I’ve had four open-heart surgeries, two ablations, countless other surgeries and, oh yeah, I also have a pacemaker), I usually get the same type of look. It’s a look of shock and confusion. Most people’s responses are almost always the same: “Wow, but you look so healthy!” Well, yes, I do! I look so healthy, and what’s even better is the magic potion I put on my face makes me feel healthy and normal, too! 

I feel a certain sense of pride when people tell me they would’ve never guessed I had a heart problem. That’s because I’m reminded of my dad’s advice to me growing up with this heart disease: “Just live your life as normally as you can.” I never really understood the significance of his advice, but over the years now, I get it and it’s because acting normal — or, in my case, trying to look healthy — is the foundation of feeling normal and healthy, too.

And so, because I love looking and feeling so normal and healthydespite what my medical records may tell you, I will continue to wear my makeup and the blush I can’t go a day without, no matter how ridiculous and superficial people might think I am.

Because even if people know some of your life story, you don’t ever need anyone’s approval, whether your face is beautifully natural or beautifully “makeupfied.”

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

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