A woman with wide eyes holds a makeup brush to her face.

Glasses, Makeup, and Hair, Oh My! - Learning to Express Myself Differently with Thyroid Eye Disease

“I think I look cute.” I find myself saying this periodically these days. To anyone outside of my immediate circle, it may seem vain, but I celebrate these moments of confidence and self-acceptance.

There is a clear divide in my life - there’s the person I was before thyroid eye disease (TED), and the person I am now. A lot about me has changed, both physically and mentally, and while multiple surgeries definitely helped to correct some of the damage caused by TED, I do not look the same as I did before. Adjusting has been a continuous and emotional process.

Learning to express myself differently with thyroid eye disease

Hairstyles, clothing, glasses, makeup - all of these are components of how we as individuals might wish to express ourselves. I have changed inside and out as a result of TED, and what felt right before does not look the same now and may not feel the same. I believe that when something changes in our lives, it is healthy to change with it. It has taken a long time and a lot of emotional energy for me to find what felt good and how I wanted to express myself after all of my surgeries.


It was apparent that something about my glasses was off. The proportions and shape of my eyes and face had changed, so of course, the frames looked different on me. They made my eyes look bigger and drew attention to the circles underneath. They no longer made me happy, and I planned to get new glasses after my surgeries were completed.


I noticed early on in my journey with TED that something was off about my regular makeup routine, so I learned smoky eye techniques that helped create the illusion that my eyes were a little farther back. Post-surgeries I went in the total opposite direction. I purchased several brightly colored and sparkly eyeshadow palates, and I learned unique shading techniques that pulled more focus to my eyes to make a statement. It was a big step - I did not want to hide anymore. My heart swelled every time someone complimented my eyeshadow. They were no longer commenting on how big my eyes were - they were complimenting a choice I had made.


Something about my regular hairstyle just wasn’t working. My facial proportions were different now, and everything just felt wrong. I tried different things - a bob, bangs, growing it out, cutting it again, futile attempts with multiple curling irons. I eventually got another bob after my surgeries, determined to try it again, this time with side bangs. This felt better, but not quite there. I was frustrated, and it felt like I was spending too much time and energy each day trying to make it work. Everything was wrong. Would I ever feel good about how I looked in the mirror? I grew tired and stopped experimenting. And one day there was a shift.

“Oh, who is that?” I remember thinking when I saw myself in the mirror after a recent trim. I ran my hands through my hair noting my funky eyeshadow and the fun yet elegant vibe my hair was giving off. “I think I look cute!”

Moments to celebrate in my thyroid eye disease journey

Truthfully, this is all still a process with ups and downs. I mostly feel good about the components I can control, but accepting the things I cannot change is still a struggle. But I am happy that embracing change has resulted in more good moments in front of the mirror. They are moments of confidence and self-recognition. I had lost these feelings for so long, and I celebrate finding them again.

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