I met Jana when I was 18 years old. It was an unusual meeting, because she is German & I met her in a tiny town in Wyoming (for my international readers, that is the least populated state in the U.S.). In a place like that, her special qualities shone very brightly. She became a remarkable photographer & recently I asked her to write for me on the subject of disease & beauty. Here are her thoughts:
I hope I will manage to answer the question, as English is not my mother tongue, as you know. To me, beauty is more connected to the "unvisible" or to put it a different way: It's an inner heart felt connection that reveals itself into this world, if the connection to the mystery of life is alive. It's more of an attitude to me, than a style. I have seen so many beautiful, but boring people at the same time. They may have been given a beautiful body, face or whatever it is. And it is easy to agree to such standards, as we all find it good looking. But this kind of "beauty" can be taken from one person easily, by illness, accident, etc.
So, yes, it is easy to say, that as an artist and feeling human I find "diseased" people beautiful. In fact, everybody is beautiful, but it's a matter of bravery to just let it flow outwards towards the people and in this world. So illness basically is a gift given to us, to look at certain areas of our life that seems unbalanced. It gives us time to reflect, time to ponder, time to come closer to us. It gives us essential lessons to learn, I believe. (As a side note, even though it is a very hard pill to swallow, I think Jana is absolutely right in what she says here. Getting to the point where we see illness as a gift can be very, very challenging though.)
It may give you (perhaps) a new perspective of what beauty is and it's all about loving yourself. So, we should be so thankful to what our body maintains every single second of our lives. It keeps us alive in the very true sense, it wants to be honored and it is our sacred temple, no matter how it looks. So it is important to distract yourself from what looks beautiful and get closer to feel what is
beautiful. It's more a charismatic "thing" . . . and people can sense this at some point or the other.
Most people I photograph are "normal" people with hardly any make up done etc. I am not interested in these high fashion styled photos. I find them actually quite boring. They may look nice, but a dozen of people style one person to look great at the end, but it has no potential to me. It is fake. And yes, Angie, you are still beautiful. I liked, what the other artist said: He put a connection to grace as well. It is all about feeling comfortable with yourself, a hard lesson, but a good one. You are being loved by your adorable family and friends, as I can read and understand it. So, don't worry, be content and take your time to include what wants to be understood through your illness.
You can see some of Jana's beautiful work on her website: Jana Buchholz. (Click on the word "engl" at the bottom of the home page to see the site in English.)