Changes in appearance can be devastating because they are so undeniable. Surgical procedures can disrupt your self-image. Weight loss or gain can be difficult to disguise. The effects of medications and treatment can take a toll on your appearance. Your skin, for example, might become much more pale than usual, or have a yellowish cast to it. The hair loss associated with chemotherapy can be especially disturbing.
These physical changes sometimes have a profound effect on how you feel about yourself. Our culture places so much value on "looking your best!" When your health care providers and everyone else around you focus on your body, assessing the effects of illness and treatment, it's not surprising that you may also be preoccupied with your body. Befriend the new face that you see in the mirror. A necessary first step will be to let go of your "old self," or at least of your image of that self. "Look Good, Feel Better" is a special program designed especially to help you adapt to your appearance and is available in many communities. Hospitals or other sponsors bring in professional beauticians, cosmetologists, and stylists to advise people on how to wear make-up, turbans, and wigs, not only to minimize changes, but to look truly good.
Many people lessen the effect of physical change by changing their wardrobe. If you have lost a great deal of weight, your old clothes may be uncomfortably baggy. If your skin is fragile, certain fabrics may irritate it. Soft cottons, velour, and chenille may feel better than wool and nylon. Clothing can disguise many changes, and makeup and wigs work wonders. Janie had a number of brightly colored loose-fitting robes that she wore frequently because, she said, the colors lifted her spirits and hid what she described as her "bony body."
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