Today is International Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day, and because of that I asked Harriet, from the awesome blog, Harriet’s Got Crohn’s, to answer some questions for us. Harriet kindly accepted and here’s our interview:
Beauty Addict: Thanks Harriet for letting me ask you some questions! Tell us a little about yourself …
Harriet: I’m just a twenty-something lady, working out where I fit in life.
Beauty Addict: You also write a blog, can you tell my readers about it?
It’s a tricky one, Crohn’s Disease. Because it’s not something that many people know of/speak about, especially within the younger ones as it’s – naturally – an embarrassing disease. But I don’t want people who have it, be embarrassed to ask questions or talk openly about it. Similarly, for people who don’t have it, but know someone who does…
Beauty Addict:You were incredibly brave writing your blog and I’m absolutely sure you will have made a difference to so many people who are experiencing similar symptoms. Were you nervous about writing it?
Harriet: Oh my god I was so nervous!
I started it because I was due to have my biggest op to date and I initially needed an alternative outlet. I had toyed with the idea for a few months, as I knew it would be something I’d enjoy. But thinking about it and doing it, are two entirely different things!
But I genuinely mean it, anyone that has got in touch with me because of it, or even taken the time to read it…thank you – it just reiterates why I continue to write it.
Beauty Addict: You manage a job and a blog, while being poorly, how do you manage it? Are you actually, Wonderwoman? (Have I blown your cover, oops!)
Harriet: Pfft. Wonderwoman, my bum! It’s taken quite a while, but I seem to have got to a stage where I find it easier to balance work, life and Crohn’s.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where it all goes out the window! But as I’ve got older and got through uni, etc. it’s a bit easier to have a rounded perspective on it all.
Beauty Addict: You always look amazing and nobody would think you are unwell. What role does beauty play in your life, has it taken a back seat because of your illness or is it more important?
Harriet: Oh thank you! Well, I must confess, concealer is my best friend. The bags under the eyes I get from being tired all the time need some industrial strength make up to cover it!
Thing is, I’ve always enjoyed getting made up – it’s from my dancing days. But I guess depending on whether I am having a flare up or not, beauty has a varied role for me. Sometimes this means that I am fed up looking poorly and make every effort to look faaaaaabulous (i.e. normal). Equally there are times when I just think; screw it, I’m struggling to even get up, let alone fix my face!
Beauty Addict: What skincare regime do you use to keep your skin looking gorgeous?
Harriet: *cringes* It’s like I’m in confession! I am SO bad at skincare regimes. Never really had one. Trying to have one now.
There’s a running joke at work that I have no idea what half the products do, because I’ve never used them…so bad. I guess I have to say thank you to my genes, really. As I very rarely contribute to the prolonged wellness of my skin.
Beauty Addict: What are your ‘must-have’ beauty buys?
Harriet: Hairspray! I love a bit of volume. And a good colour shampoo for me as my colour’s always changing.
Make up-wise, I’d have to say a strong mascara. It’s so easy to get tempted to buy one because the brush looks good, promises big ol’ eyelashes. But very rarely do they actually do that.
And some Vaseline – nothing worse than dry, crusty, chapped lips!
Harriet: With regards to colour, it has to by the purple hues. If I could be born any hair colour naturally, it would be to have purple.
My favourite cut? I have to say I’m enjoying my current one. It’s the shortest I’ve ever gone, so took a bit of getting used to. But I like that it’s challenging me…if that makes sense?!
Beauty Addict: Your hair is amazing how do you keep it in tip-top condition?
Harriet: I try not to wash it every day; whether that’s derived from having bright colours and know that they’ll fade? Get it cut regularly and don’t be afraid to use a bit of dry shampoo.
Beauty Addict: What is your favourite make-up look and how do you achieve it?
Harriet: I have very small eyelids, so as much as I’d like to do wonderful blending, there’s not much room. My favourite (typical) make up look would be a flick of liquid eyeliner on the top lid, with lashings of black mascara – top and bottom. Then either a rosy cheek and a nude lip, or if I’m feeling crazy, a subtle flush of the cheeks with a killer lipstick.
Beauty Addict: Who is your style icon?
Harriet: Mille Mackintosh has a great sense of style. As do Rachel Bilson and Nicole Ritchie. The latter two always look so comfortable in their outfits, as opposed to awkward because the clothes are wearing them.
But I guess I have a skewed perspective, as sometimes I look at clothes for inspiration, then have to have a readjustment as my body shape doesn’t fit into any Gok-worthy categories.
Beauty Addict: Who is your beauty (make-up) icon?
Harriet: To be honest, I’m not too sure?! I guess I’m like a sponge for what’s around me; all the magazines and social media, etc. so no one in particular.
Saying that, the Kardashians always look immaculate, but I imagine there’s a lot of make up on their faces…
Beauty Addict: You seem to have an awesome wardrobe, how would you describe your fashion sense?
Harriet: It’s very eclectic. It’s also very maternity-looking at the moment!
I like mixing patterns and textures, but also love to have a go-to floaty top to hide my flamonge (bloat).
There are days when I rock a preppy look; I love a good shirt. And other days when I put a youthful twist on super smart for work meetings. Also, one should never underestimate the power of a good accessory!
Beauty Addict: What is your favourite outfit and why?
Harriet: My favourite outfit would have to be one of my most recent purchases.
It is a fluro leopard print tunic dress with long sleeves, from Topshop for £38. Sounds garish, but I like it because it covers my excess arm-arse (skin that folds at the armpit and looks like a bum), it drops down from the boob and floats over the tum. And still looks awesome. I wear it with electric blue stacked wedges from New Look, which were around £25.
Harriet: My boyfriend. Without him I would be such an emotional sap! We met before I got diagnosed with Crohn’s and he has been with me through everything. But I also have a solid support network – they’re the ones who pick you up when you’re feeling down, and do any other relevant clichés!
Harriet: I have two; a book and a quote. Both related to Crohn’s – but Crohn’s is such a big part in my life that everything in some way, relates back to it.
‘Foul Bowel’ was the first and only book I have read on Crohn’s. It’s by a guy called John Bradley and tells his story of him and his journey with Crohn’s. Without it, I think it would have been a lot harder to get on with things in a positive way, when so much of my life changed so quickly. Funnily enough, we now speak regularly on Twitter, so it’s great to have him there for instant advice!
Then my quote is this:
Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.
Beauty Addict: If you had to describe yourself in three words what would they be?
Harriet: Fun-size Bloated Crohnie
Beauty Addict: What does the word beauty mean to you?
Harriet: I had to rethink how I saw myself when my Crohn’s went nuts, and I started having my operations – especially the ones on the abdomen. I’d gone from a toned teenager who danced all the time, to a bloated and scarred twenty-something. I’m fine with it all now, but it’s incredibly tough to get your head around it all sometimes. But this is why I still get torso envy, which you can read about on my blog (cheeky plug!) haha.
Without getting all philosophical, the word beauty has changed for me over the years.
It’s tough for a teenager trying to find themselves, when they’re bombarded with what the media perceives as beautiful. But now there are so many campaigns by magazines or websites and general awareness, encouraging people to be themselves, because they are beautiful – regardless of whatever anyone says.
Beauty Addict: Thanks Harriet for such beautiful and thought provoking answers. Your bravery in sharing your experiences will undoubtedly be helping many, many people. I thank you on behalf of all of your readers for informing us in such an accessible and funny manner. I wish you all the best with your health, and the blog , and look forward to reading your next post.
Photo credits: Harriet Stevens
To get more information about World IBD Day go to www.worldibdday.org