In Sickness and In Helmut Lang

January 8, 2014 • Fashion


Fashion, beauty, and illness are irrevocably intertwined to me, probably because the first time I passed out was at Sephora. I just keeled over trying on foundation and woke up in the arms of a frantic staffperson, and stared vaguely at the fuzzy grey cloud of a logo while they argued who to call. I don’t remember the conversation. I just remember the last thing I saw before I fell was Lorac foundation — sadly, not my shade.

What followed after that first fainting spell was a dizzying amount of misdiagnosis and blood tests, bad doctors (really, really bad doctors), and hours of driving to suburban nowhere for another round of “Sorry, you probably can’t have kids, also, take your pants off.” I hear a lot of, “She has this,” “No, this.” So on. So forth. Too much medication. Not nearly enough. Wean her off. Add some more.

I have become quite good at distancing myself from my disorders now, from years of practice and utter boredom filling out the paperwork and filing claims and arguing with insurers. Now, whenever I find myself in the doctors office I leave the worrying to everyone else. I will have this forever, anyway. Being sad about it for forever seems so exhausting. Forever is a long time.


I just visited another round of doctors today, which is why I’m writing this, on my way back to work. I hadn’t had these specific rounds of tests in awhile — but I slipped into the dressing room with the same excitement I get at Tokio 7. This was intentional — I pretended I was at Tokio 7. The dressing gown they gave me — I willed it to become Helmut Lang in my heart. My first instinct when I’m left alone to wait for the doctor is always to cry that I’m doing this shit all over again — but if there’s a mirror, there is time for selfies. There was an empty hallway, which could throw me in a paranoid spiral that I’m the lone survivor of a zombie apocalypse, that I’ve been cast as a shorter, gayer, uglier Mila Jovovich (my one true love), but no. I decided instead to pretend I was in that infamous Miesel for Vogue Italia shoot, and did my best Sasha Pivovarova. Sickness mimicking models modeling sickness. How’s that for meta.

I’m not that sick, really, just enough for it to be inconvenient and unending. It won’t kill me any faster than boredom will, so it’s not so bad. I will always set the reality of it aside and frame it so my power is mine and not my illness. Fine, I’ll go for another ultrasound. Fine, take another six vials of blood, fine, fine, fine, fine. Great, now you want X-rays? But can I keep on my Agent Provacateur?


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