The Health Battle You Don’t See When You Judge My Outfit

I recently attended a business meeting at a prestigious firm we’ll call “Healthy People Corp,” fitted in my signature heather grey leggings, oversized high-low shirt, a pair of navy Uggs, no makeup, and my natural curls. While I was patiently waiting in the lobby of Healthy People Corp, the receptionist remarked to me as she lead me back to the conference room that she hoped my meeting went well despite my overly casual appearance. Coming from corporate world, I knew what professional business attire looked like, but I hadn’t taken into account how my newly found “comfy clothes” uniform would be received by potential business partners.

While this lady wasn’t directly rude or seemingly unkind in anyway, I’d just like to share with her a few things I didn’t have the time to the other day.

As a chronically ill entrepreneur, honestly I’m a “no makeup professional.” Since my weight has been fluctuating, traditional business clothes fit me very restrictive and uncomfortable because I’m in-between sizes. Heels make my feet swell faster than a 30-week-old expecting mother walking around target for 10 minutes. I only wear flat comfortable shoes these days or the myoclonus tremors make my legs shake and I have to revert back to my Lofstrand crutches. If I spend energy doing my makeup, I won’t have it to drive to the meeting. If I spend too much energy getting ready, I won’t have it for the meeting.

I get it, appearance is everything in today’s society. It exemplifies what you think about yourself to the world. It sets the stage for how people will interact with you and as a millennial, how seriously they’ll take you. Yet, on my list of things to do while fighting an illness that’s trying to kill me everyday, somehow what I have on never really makes the top of the list anymore. As my boyfriend will tell you, seeing me in makeup is like seeing the blue moon. It happens once every 28 years.

As much as I want to ensure “Spoonie Essentials Box” is a successful business, since my diagnosis I have given priority to things of greater personal significance in my life. I spend less time worrying what I look like and more time worrying how I’m impacting the lives of those around me. I’d rather spend an extra couple hours writing handwritten happy mail letters than go shopping for clothes. I’m much more inclined now to spend the extra time before a meeting sitting down for a minute and temporarily recharging than doing my makeup.

It seems odd to have to explain to you or anyone that I care more about what type of business practitioner I am than how I dress everyday. I wear comfortable clothes, so? Does that make me any less qualified? Is my business plan now defunct because I have on leggings? I don’t know what it is about what we look like that healthy people are so obsessed with. We don’t look sick, we don’t look professional, we don’t look old enough to be prescribed half the amounts of medications we are but we are.

I tired of being ridiculed and frowned upon because I’ve made a decision that enhances my quality of life. After almost dying, I could care less about what someone has on. I’d much rather get to know their heart and explore their mind than lose out on a potential opportunity because they look comfy.

I realize this is hardly of much importance to the rest of the world or a smart business strategy, but to us chronically ill entrepreneurs and patients, we’d really appreciate it if you didn’t make us feel bad for trying to feel better. But I will say, Steve jobs wore New Balance, Mark Zuckerberg wears T-Shirts, Oprah does interviews in her kitchen, and Kim Kardashian continues to grow an empire based solely on seeing the casual her.

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