Unstoppable Style: A Lesson in Dealing With Fashion (and Life) Obstacles

I’m not proud of the fact that it’s been 8 days since my last post, but I do have a good excuse. My new mother and sister-in-law were visiting from New Jersey the past few days, forcing me to blissfully leave my usual station in front of the computer, excessively checking Facebook. It was a wonderful visit, especially since it almost didn’t happen. See, my new sister Kim has had a rough past couple of years. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which has landed her in the hospital so many times it’s almost the status quo, and brought upon multiple surgeries, one of which was to reroute her intestines out the side of her stomach, and attached to a bag that catches all her digested food. Just last week, Kim was in the hospital with Pancreatitis, yet another problem caused by the disease. We thought for sure the LA trip would be canceled, but Kim being the fighter that she is, insisted that this not stop her from doing what she had planned to do. Lucky for all of us, the doctor gave her the green light, and we had a wonderful time.

As I have watched Kim go through hardship after hardship, I can’t help but ask myself how I would handle this situation. Constant stays in the hospital, surgeries, prolonged visits to public bathrooms (or bushes, depending on the circumstances) and plastic bags attached to my stomach… I’m embarrassed to admit it, but for the sake of my point, I must: I think it’s safe to say that I would be a massive wreck, constantly asking “Why me?” But not Kim. I literally have never heard her complain about what life has brought her. Not once. In fact, she almost manages to make it look cool – she becomes BFF with all her doctors, compassionately nicknamed her external intestine nub “Peach,” bought fab new one piece bathing suits, and has adopted her new required lowfat diet with such grace, I find myself wanting to follow in her footsteps. There’s something about the way she approaches the day-to-day that makes it feel like her obstacles are just as trivial as the rest of our stupid problems. Oh – and did I mention she is only 17?

From left: Victoria’s Secret Retro One-Piece $125, Spiegel Metallic Print One-Piece $49, J. Crew Petals One-Piece $59.99

One of our favorite activities to do together is shop. Just like all the girls her age, Kim loves to experiment with fashion, and adopt new styles for new school years. This Fall, it’s what she calls the “LA Look” – skinny jeans, plaid shirts, fedoras, and wayfarers. We were like kids in a candy store at The Grove, looking for all the pieces that would make a statement on the first day of her senior year, but still work with Peach. Most of us girls can wear shirts that sit close to the body or bikinis without giving it a second thought, but Kim is working with a different set of rules- nothing tight fitting or stomach baring, but yet, nothing that makes her look pregnant. Like a torpedo, Kim barreled through the stores, piling things on her arm that she knew would work with what she’s got. In the dressing room, one thing after another looked completely bangarang on her. Oversized plaid flannels, empire waist bohemian tops, a snap-up sweatshirt with oversized collar… she rocked it so hard, one would never even notice that she’s working with a “fashion obstacle.” This girl doesn’t even know the meaning of obstacle.

Hear Her Roar
Hear Her Roar by thelifestyled featuring Vivienne Westwood bags

I’m convinced that one of the main factors that gets Kim through the hard days is her Fire essence. She is a walking example of the Pleasure Seeker archetype, and she uses it to her full advantage. Whether it’s becoming best friends with all her nurses and doctors, constantly making everyone around her laugh, soaking up all the attention, or dreaming up ideas for the tattoo she’s determined to get the minute she turns 18, Kim is always implementing the Fire philosophy: if it’s not fun, don’t do it… and if you must do it, then make it fun!

Pacsun Tee $17.50

I am reminded of a t-shirt she picked up off a table full of different graphic tees – it was bright pink with the face of a tiger on it. It was perfect for Kim – the girl who’s so ferocious, nothing can stop her from living the life she wants. Not a disease, or her new “best friend” Peach. The next time I think the world is coming to an end because my jeans are fitting a little tight or I’m “sick of everything in my closet”, I’m going to think of Kim, and how she manages to overcome every massive curve ball her young life has thrown her, without ever missing a beat.

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  1. Stephy Pool 08/20/2009 Reply

    Kim. What a fantastic girl. Got me all choked up over here! – Stephy

  2. Natasha 08/20/2009 Reply

    What an inspiration… I totally teared up reading that. And 1-pieces are so hot right now! (I rocked one all summer long, but it was to cover up a tire, not a peach) ;)Love the glasses – keep rockin', Kim.

  3. Rachel Cannon Humiston 08/21/2009 Reply

    What a great article! Kim, you're an inspiration, both fashionably and otherwise. Hope you had fun in LA and good luck for school!Adorb pic btw!

  4. Catherine, I cried reading this. It's inspirational to me to see what someone from the outside thinks of my situation. This post was beautiful and not just because it was about me ;). I'm still rocking my fedora and wayfarers with confidence. It was truly a miracle to be able to see you guys and I'm so thankful for the time we spent together. It really got my mind off just trying to stay out of the hospital. I love you guys so much and I'm so thankful for all the support from everyone. It's not easy to make a crappy situation flow with being a teenager or being a "normal" one for that matter. Next surgery soon to come in between college visits and getting ready for my senior year. Now, I'm trying to convince Mom about getting my nose pierced. haha! I can't wait to see you guys in a few weeks! Thank you for this article Catherine it really made an impact in my heart. YES!! haha

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