Thursday, April 5, 2012

A guest post by Jackie Clark

Jackie Clark, who does outreach for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, has reached out to me to post an article she wrote about the importance of fashion and style as a morale booster for women who have dealt with the tragedy of a cancer diagnosis.

Jackie believes that even in trying times, fashion can be used to help women feel beautiful, confident and strong.  I think Jackie's cause is a great one for women, and any way to bring awareness to the strength and beauty of women should be recognized.

The Relationship Between Fashion and Beauty and the Sense of Self
By: Jackie Clark

The relationship between fashion and beauty comes down to the expression of a woman's sense of personal style. How a person looks often affects how she feels about herself. While this is always important, it may never be more so when a woman faces a serious health challenge like mesothelioma. When much of a person's time is spent seeing doctors and listening to prognosis after prognosis, the fashion and beauty staples that a woman chooses like a cool pair of red shoes or a brand new lipstick shade can make her feel like a person again instead of a diagnosis.

Changes in Life

According to PBS, fashion helps people to express themselves by allowing them to try on different roles in life much like a costume allows an actor to get into character. The same can be said about makeup. For example, a woman who dresses conservatively may normally wear a navy-blue suit and muted browns and beige makeup colors may “try on” a new character by wearing a hot pink shirt and matching lipstick one day. Such a choice allows her to see how this bolder alter ego lives. She may ask herself, “What kind of decisions would this type of person make? What types of careers or friends would she have?”

While this may not seem like much, it can represent the first step that a woman takes into making some necessary changes in her life, which often begin with small steps. Fashion and beauty represent relatively safe ways for a person to explore change on a small scale before making larger scale changes. These steps can help her, regardless of whether she's making changes in her health regimen, career or spiritual life—the idea being, “If I can make this change, what other positive changes can I make in my life?”

The Constants in Life

On the flip side, the way a woman expresses herself through fashion and beauty can represent one of the constants in her life. When life throws a person a number of challenges at her, daily rituals like putting on makeup or choosing an outfit for work may provide some stability in an otherwise unstable situation. Laying out clothes for something like an annual singles retreat or deciding on a new eye makeup shade to wear to the office spring fling helps a woman concentrate on elements in her life that she not only looks forward to, but can control as well.

Adding Color to Life

Fashion and beauty also bring color to a person's life. As winter months turn into spring, magazine fashion pages pop with bright floral prints and jewel-tone makeup colors. These hues reflect the life that is blossoming outside on the trees and in the flower beds. There is a psychological component to these colors. As such, there is also a lesson to be taken away from them. For days when life presents a number of challenges and a woman faces her own share of the blues, fashion and beauty can give her mood a boost as well.


The relationship between fashion and beauty is many-fold. These two markers of self-expression provide a woman with a viable tool for boosting her sense of well-being, regardless of what kinds of challenges she faces. They remind her of who she is or who she can be, which gives a woman an anchor to which she can tether her life.

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