Why I Take Selfies

Today, I had to take steroids. For the third time this week I ended up walking around the house using my wedding cane. It was terrible but the steroids helped and I’m keeping my legs elevated.

Another thing about today and the other days of the week I’ve used a mobility aid, whether I’ve left the house or not, I’ve done a full hair and makeup getup, and worn a pretty dress. Yesterday I tried the Pinterest listerine pedicure, which exfoliated my feet but turned them blue, and painted my nails red. I’ll probably stick to Korean feet masks.

Every time I make myself pretty, I take a selfie because of all the extra effort that went into it, especially if it was on a bad day. I am proud of the work it took to doll myself up, whether it’s a pedicure, skincare, an outfit, my hair, my makeup, or a mix.

Going back to being a child, I have found strength in my femininity. Many people denounce selfies as vain, but after my illness, it’s simply me saying, “hey, I did it!”

I’m not looking for attention or accolades. Just the fact that I did it for myself and have something to look back on is enough to help me fight my battle against chronic illness.

Do I always do this? No. But it helps when I do.

Whatever helps you take a step forward, do it.

Fibromyalgia Comfort Wear Wardrobe

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

If you’re anything like me, not long after you were diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you searched for answers. From everything from diet to treatment, to bras to footwear. You soon discovered that your body was ultra-sensitive to fabrics and you’ve probably ditched a bra by this point. I’m here to share some Holy Grail products of mine that I’ve found work like a charm.

The products below are enough to give you an entire wardrobe of comfort – I even included a bra! All of the items included come in multiple colors and patterns, so you can order multiple and mix and match for instant Spoonie Style, my Fibromyalgia Fashionistas.

1.Old Navy Jersey Knit Swing Dress for Women

This essential T-Shirt dress comes in 10 different patterns and colors. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my mom took me to Old Navy and gifted me 3. I later thrifted 1. These are comfortable enough to wear without a bra. This is my favorite Fibromyalgia Fashionista find on this list.

My Pick: Old Navy Jersey Swing Dress for Women

2. Old Navy High-Waisted Leggings 2-Pack for Women

These are my favorite pair of leggings – a pack of one black and one gray, and there’s a plus size version too! My weight fluctuates with fibromyalgia and I am bottom heavy, so finding leggings to keep up is difficult. I find these are the Elastigirl of leggings at a great price.

My Picks: Old Navy High-Waisted Leggings 2-Pack for Women

3. Juniors’ Joe B Paperbag Waist Wide Leg Pants

Now I will admit, these Paperbag Waist Wide Leg pants aren’t for everyone, but they will snazz up an outfit. These are for real Fashionista Spoonies looking for Spoonie Style! They’re fresh, they’re funky, and they’re soft as yoga pants with more breathing room and style. The Paperpag pants come in multiple colors and patterns from Kohls.

My Pick: Juniors’ Joe B Paperbag Waist Wide Leg Pants

4.Amazon Brand Daily Ritual Women’s Jersey Short Sleeve Open Crewneck Tunic

This soft tunic available in multiple colors is long enough to be a dress on some people – if you’re under 5’4″ – but makes an extremely comfortable shirt. Comfort like this is perfect for Fibromyalgia Fashionistas. Nothing scratches against your chest and it makes excellent street clothes or pajamas.

My Pick: Amazon Brand Daily Ritual Women’s Jersey Short Sleeve Open Crewneck Tunic

5. The Genie Bra 3 Pack

For those of you with fibromyalgia who cannot go without a bra, this is for you. The Genie Bra is comfortable, breathable, and supportive. However, use the sizing chart and order one size up as it runs small in the band, which is a no-no for costochrondritis and rib cage pain. As long as you order one size up, you will have perfect Fibromyalgia Fashionista comfort. The Genie Bra is a type of sports bra and you will have to pull it over your head, which I can still do. Unlike many sports bras, it is a low V-neck, making wearing low-cut shirts possible. Look out for a full review from me on the Genie Bra soon.

My Pick: The Genie Bra 3 Pack

On Footwear

Your mileage may vary depending on what your symptoms are. If your fibromyalgia involves swelling like me, you may find yourself living in boots all of the time. I always wear high quality Chelsea boots, right now my brand of choice is Franco Sarto. Others have fallen arches and must wear orthotic shoes – I used to do this until my feet became too swollen.

For most Spoonie Fashionistas, I would recommend something soft with arch support, like a running shoe specifically fitted to your foot at a running store, or high quality boots that are expensive. Spend at least 30 minutes in the store trying on the boots. The boots should have a low heel, low height and have a zipper. If you’re in Texas, cowboy boots could work fine – take it from a Texan. However, your leg could get stuck in the boot if you swell while wearing the cowboy boots.

Mix and Match to Build Your Wardrobe

Have some cardigans laying around pre-chronic illness? Pair it with a tunic and some leggings for some cute laid back street style. Add a beanie or beret for some artistry.

Pair the tunic of a corresponding color with the Paperbag pants for an instant Fibromyalgia Fashionista “wow!”

The little knit dresses go with everything, especially the solid color ones, so have fun with those, Spoonie Styler!

Style for Spoonies

Style for Spoonies

Please note that this post is intended for personal empowerment, not to push anyone into a mold. Style does not equal fashion, as will be discussed later in this post.

My goal is to let everyone know there are parts of themselves they can still have fun with, even with chronic illness. I hope I do not miss the mark.

I am a certified Girly Girl ™ and Chronic Illness Warrior Queen. It is my duty as a feminine chronic illness warrior to have some fun and write about something that tickles my fancy, which is how to develop a personal style post-diagnosis.

What is style, and what does it have to do with chronic illness?

Paste Magazine outlines style as a sort of essence or tone  to a person or thing, like food or writing. When a person becomes chronically ill, it is easy to lose their essence. So much of how daily life is lived must be changed. Everything from food, speech, walking to clothing choices must differ due to health conditions. But the essence of who a chronic illness warrior is, who you may be, dear reader – must not change. It must adapt.

Why should people with chronic illnesses care about style?

Firstly, a person with a chronic illness does not have to care about or prioritize style! I certainly don’t 5 out of 7 days out of most weeks. 5 days is a good week. However, when I do have the spoons to waste on style, I do feel better, and I am all about feeling better. I would like to make other chronic illness warriors feel better too. If you, as a person with a chronic illness, believe you would benefit from a silly cathartic article written about style for spoonies, please read on.

Types of Spoonie Style

The Lounger

If you are a certified pajama queen and live strictly for comfort, go you! You are putting your health first. This is good! No need to feel shame here, spoonie fashionista.

The Yoga Pants

There’s a lot of fun you can have with yoga pants. Yoga pants are basically the new blue jean. Once again, you’re practically street style honey.

The Leggings and Flowy Shirts

This is a definite style many musicians and bohemian ladies rock. Nothing to be ashamed of here, my chronic illness warrior princesses.

The Big Dresses

I don’t know if it’s just me, but hey soul sister if you’re reading this! Do you suffer from rib cage pain? Is your stomach and lower body in too much pain for yoga pants or leggings? Welcome to the Dress Mess tribe!

Everybody Else

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. There is no one way to describe the many ways women with chronic illness dress, and it’s usually function over form. This post aims to put a little form to the function, acknowledging form is less important than function, but can be used at times to add some style, or fun, AKA essence.

The Fab Fibromyalgia: My Chronic Illness Makeover

Exhibit A: Myself, the Spoonie Bard.

I had always been into rockabilly and retro fashion, a bit of a throwback if you will. My street style had always been a bit dark, glittery and rock and roll. Lipstick was always my cosmetic of choice as I had eye allergies.

Before my illness, I wore ripped cutoff booty shorts, complicated lace and tulle black structured blouses tight under the bust, combat boots, dark wash skinny jeans, a full face of makeup, thrifted motorcycle jackets, clear contacts, and a short pixie haircut I blow dried with a hair dryer and straightened with a flat iron every day. Each morning I showered, shaved, and applied fake tanning lotion. My hair was always colored.

At the core of my look was an essence, or style: edgy that said “I’m here. You can see me and judge me immediately so my anxious mind won’t go on a worry trail imagining all the mean things you’re saying in your head. I know you’re noticing the purple hair, the fake bake, the eyeliner, and the combat boots.”

Now, let’s look at me after  chronic illness.

After chronic illness: pixie haircut styled naturally curly or straight with a hot air brush, natural brunette hair color, tortoiseshell vintage cats eye glasses, loose fitting T-Shirt dresses in darker colors from Old Navy, vest cardigans, tall chestnut riding boots, ASICS sneakers, grandpa sweaters, an investment black pleather Guess jacket with gold details, knit polka dot dresses and shirts, flowy knee length skirts, and a bold lipstick color. I am currently pale as a ghost and hairy as a horse.

The current essence screams 1950s librarian to me. A librarian that one day, in January, hopes to have purple hair again. Still, it’s different – wearing my hair curly makes me look like I have hair from the 1920s and barely an inch long. The call of “look at me so I know you are first” still stands. I still have an essence, even if I can’t wear pants anymore. Despite chronic illness, I still have a style.

How to Develop a Style After Diagnosis

  1. Decide what you want to say when you enter a room

Is it “You saw me first and I know what you thought?” Are you daring and bold in this manner?

If so, experiment with a bold lip color or eye shadow. Which one of these you choose depends on if you have eye problems like I do (I suffer from ocular migraines and every allergen imaginable).

If you want to tell someone you are glamorous, invest or thrift for good accessories. A luxury handbag, jacket, jewelry piece or scarf can go a long way to dressing up yoga pants and a T-shirt.

2. How trendy are you?

And, generally speaking from experience… Trendy clothes are far less comfortable.

This determines what era you’ll set yourself in, and how up-to-date on fashion trends you’ll be. It also helps determine a budget, because if you’re trendy, you have to buy clothes more often!

Going for a more classic, timeless style means buying less clothes over time, unless you suffer from body fluctuations like me. However, generally knowing what you like makes it easier to shop online or at a thrift store once you know whether you’re more dramatic or low key.

Trendy vs. classic helps determine what type of fabrics you buy. I like to thrift for Old Navy knit dresses. These are rayon cotton or jersey knit dresses with a polyester blend. Generally I find these fabrics are gentler on my skin than the tulle or lace I used to wear. I aim for different patterns and polka dots in different colors. However I am a polka dot and not a stripe, and you may be a stripe; do as you wish girl.

Always choose fabric over looks. That sequin shirt is going to really rub you sore. But I guarantee you a jersey knit top with the right pattern or embellishments that do not stick up will treat you right.

3. What are your limitations, and can you have fun with them?

Do you use a mobility aid? Do you need to wear glasses? To wear pants or not to wear pants? Can you only wear pants?

If you use a mobility aid such as a cane, consider something elegant or antique if you’re female. To find one of these, I suggest eBay. I recommend The Disabled Diva’s Six Stylish Canes to Keep You On Your Feet for more direct references. If you’re partial to Ireland or Irish folklore, I once used a shillelagh as a mobility aid. They are available on Amazon.

As for glasses being trendy these days, there are so many options to appear on point. I prefer cat eye because they make me look more sophisticated and slim my face, and I cannot wear contact lenses. Now I will refer you to Zenni for an affordable range of glasses frames to help you find the right pair. On Zenni you can upload a photo of yourself and do a virtual try-on.

Assess whether you can wear pants. Pants are a nope, even leggings and yoga pants in my case. I can wear yoga pants around the house, but I can’t even go out my front door to get the mail. However, if you pants the pants, you pants the pants, and this is well and good. Pants the pants.

I am not anti-yoga pants or leggings by any means, however, I cannot personally wear them. I do know that folx that can wear jeans should check out Maurices. They are the only jeans I can wear when the temperatures drop waaay down low. Maurices comes in a wide range of sizes, are incredibly soft, and do not press on my hips to aggravate endometriosis pain.

Do you need to wear sunglasses? A spoonie guy or gal can really have fun with this. Designer sunglasses or sunglasses that look like a million bucks for cheap off of Zenni to create an ensemble can really help create a wardrobe in and of itself.

4. What is your hair texture, and how can you live with it naturally?

I recommend going to a highly rated barber shop in your area for help in regards to this matter if you need a haircut. Curly and wavy hair can look good short in the hands of a skilled barber even if you are a female spoonie. It’s also easier to take care of. Be sure to pay attention to how they style it at the barbershop and ask questions, such as “What are drug store dupes for this product?” if and when they try to sell you a salon product. Be persistent if they try to tell you there aren’t any. Believe me, there are.

In general I am more in favor of short hair for female chronic illness warriors because it is less likely to become matted in the unfortunate event of poor hygiene. If you find yourself going a few days without a shower and aren’t getting second or third day hair, beanies and other cute hats are your friend.

For tips on how to care for your hair with a chronic illness, check out my post, The Spoonie Girl’s Guide to Personal Care. These are good tips for men and non-gender conforming as well.

Conclusion

It is possible to cultivate a personal style post diagnosis if a spoonie so wishes, but it should not be expected nor should it be prioritized. I wrote this for fun as a silly girl post, though folx not identifying as girls are welcome to use this as well.

Now, a recap:

Pocket full of starlight: You can have fun with your spoons if you so wish.

Pocket full of darkness: Fun costs spoons.

Use your spoons wisely!