Lupus Beauty

It often feels like lupus and beauty do not go hand in hand. Before I was diagnosed I was rather okay with my physical appearance. Never 100% happy, always finding faults, but I felt like I could talk to guys with confidence and enjoy taking a selfie from time to time (priorities…)

All that changed when I was put on a lupie’s worst enemy – steroids. You gain weight on your belly and back, but most annoyingly your face. I’ve always had a wide face, but it became super wide. I couldn’t, and still can’t, fully recognise my face in the mirror and photos, and I wonder if it will ever go completely back to normal.

Not to mention the other things – what I thought were rosy cheeks turned out to be the butterfly rash, and so when people comment on my red cheeks now I know it’s not a cute feature but my skin being attacked by my immune system. Not so cute.

And what I thought was a normal amount of hair to fall out, well that turned out to be not so normal either. I had noticed my hair was thinning, and now this is a feature that comes and goes. Currently my hair is the thinnest I’ve known it to be. And it used to be so thick my ballet teacher would complain how it wouldn’t easily go into a bun.

Even the necessity to protect myself from the sun makes me self conscious about my pale skin – whereas before I took pride in having long legs now I don’t like to flaunt them in a skirt (well, it is winter at the moment).

So, at 22 it sometimes feels like my best looking days are behind me, and that lupus has taken from me what little self-confidence I had. Not great when you’re still starting out in life, meeting new people, and determined to have fun.

It seems daft to place so much importance on looks, but there’s no denying everyone thinks about it, what they like, what they would change. Even though I know I just have to be patient and wait step by step for my steroid dosage to be reduced, and it already has, it’s no fun knowing that a sudden flare up can take all that away again.

In the meantime, I’ve experimented with different ways to help give my confidence a boost. Cheap methods, because not all of us are Gwyneth Paltrow and her bizarre methods.

Aloe Vera Juice

Not the drink you can buy on the go, but the juice you can have a tablespoon of or add to water. Three times a day, it’s mainly used to help the digestive system but I read that it also works with thickening hair, so I first tried in in the summer and it really seemed to help. And a boost to the digestive system I don’t think can harm a lupie.

Olive Oil/Coconut Oil

Also helps with frizz, which my hair has never recovered from, but using one or the other as a heated hair mask before washing can help with the overall quality of your hair. Also great for cooking with.

Herbal Tea

A friend recommended to me nettle tea to also help with my kidney problems (now in total remission!), but I dare say any herbal tea (white is the healthiest) can help with all sorts of problems, including fatigue and acne. Much better than coffee, and also very comforting if you’re having a bad day.

Green Primer

To help counteract the redness of the butterfly rash, a green primer is best for this. I’ve started wearing more make up since my diagnosis in an attempt to feel pretty, but now I’m starting to reduce the days I go for a full face, because I’ve always been lazy. It’s good, however, for when I want to play around with make up.

Contour Kit

I bought one in the belief that it would reduce the appearance of a moon face. It hasn’t really, but that might just be because I’m terrible at applying make up. So this is not a definite recommendation, but I feel that playing and experimenting with make up can help with confidence, because like picking an outfit – make up should be fun.

Face Cream with SPF

SO, SO important when sun sensitivity is an issue/medication increases risk of skin cancer, but a decent face cream is a must have for anyone. The average person can get away with a low SPF – 15 maybe, but everyone should use one to avoid too many wrinkles. I use SPF 30 to keep my skin soft and protected.

Hair Cut

A decent haircut by a good hairdresser can help lessen the obvious moon face, and deal with hair loss. Plus a new hair cut will make anyone feel good about themselves. I always say I only have two good hair days a year – the days I get it cut.

TREAT YO SELF

If you’re feeling down, just think “fuck it” and do whatever makes you happy – be it a new outfit, cake, or a stiff drink. The best way to get over self conscious days is to not obsess, instead distract yourself.

But of course, its always important to remind yourself that lupus does not take away any of your awesomeness. It can feel like it sometimes, whether it’s your looks, independence, identity etc, but it never fully will. Underneath all that primer, oil and medication, the real you never goes. Flaunt that part of you, and those who matter won’t care if your face is poofy. Mainly you.

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Women’s March, Barcelona

Cities across the world hosted these marches today to show solidarity with Washington’s own march, now that Trump is president.

Barcelona had a great atmosphere, despite the drizzle.

Although some people may think it pointless to protest when Trump is legitimate, but to me and others democracy is not about voting once every few years and putting up with the outcome – it’s about constantly having a voice.

Trump is president, but that does not mean the world has to quietly accept his racism, his sexism, his homophobia and his climate change denial – just a few of his worrying faults.

We need to show that we will not accept the hatred he and others encourage. We choose love.

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Parc Guell Revisited

I did a post on Parc Guell a while back when I visited Barcelona for the first time. This time around a friend and I went to take pictures, because he had just bought himself a new camera, and I’m glad to have friends who are also into photography. We missed out the section you have to pay to enter, but it was fun taking landscape shots in the morning before the large crowds arrived. Barcelona is beautiful in winter – not too cold but still sunny!

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The amount of anti-tourism graffiti was uncomfortable, after all without the tourist industry Barcelona would not do well…

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Novels to make you think

Being tied up with university and far too many deadlines has meant my reading for pleasure is on hold for the moment. I miss it. I got so many books for Christmas, and had to leave them all behind *sob*.

But I was reflecting on novels I have already read. Novels that stay with you long after you have read the last page, because their message or story is so powerful you are left slightly lost for a while, not really sure where to go from finishing. I love those novels. Even if they are a bit of an emotional roller-coaster.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

Possibly one of the most famous novels in existence, and sometimes scarily close to the truth. Orwell’s dystopia is not only achievable in the modern age, but shows how easy it can be to slip into something similar to this novel’s world. Humans can be too easily manipulated, and as a great lover of language, Orwell’s invention of doublespeak is an amazing reference to understand how language really does influence our own thought patterns without us realising.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence

“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.”

This novel is famous for being rude, although in the modern age in which the 50 shades series is a standard read this can be surprising. However it is more than just a few giggles, it really is an amazing read about the complexity of human connection. We grow up believing thought is more important than the physical, but Lawrence turns this around and argues that we need a physical connection above all else. Agree or disagree, he makes some good points.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxely

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

Another dystopian novel that shows what the human race can turn into if we lose all sense of humanity in favour of a simple, carefree life. Which is so often what we ask for, yet Huxely gives us this in an extreme example to prove that life without it’s messy bits is not really a life lived.

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

“After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?”

One of my favourite contemporary British writers, Ishiguro’s novels capture perfectly the themes of nostalgia and looking back with perspective. The Remains of the Day does this alongside looking back at the events of WWII, and analysing the aftermath based on the actions of different people. Ishiguro is the master of showing how people learn from the past, albeit too late to make a difference, but that is human nature.