As we head into winter, many women find themselves in front of their mirrors struggling to find the right outfit or makeup to fit the new season. But for those with a chronic disease, like relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), these common style frustrations may pose even greater challenges. Jeannie Mai, style expert and co-host of daytime talk show “The Real” has witnessed some of these struggles firsthand with her Aunt Linh, who is living with relapsing MS and has faced difficulty getting dressed and applying makeup due to balance issues and fatigue connected to her disease. Together, Mai and her aunt have worked on making small but impactful changes to her style and beauty routine, so Aunt Linh can still feel like her “best self” despite her limitations.
Mai is now sharing her style advice and inspires others through her involvement with Reimagine MySelf, a program for people living with relapsing MS that helps them reimagine life with the chronic condition. MS is a chronic, often debilitating disease of the central nervous system that impacts 2.3 million people worldwide, often striking in the prime of life. Approximately 85 percent of people are initially diagnosed with relapsing MS, the most common form of the disease.
Although it’s difficult to live with MS survivors can reimagine their personal style and still smile at the off days. From quick style swaps to do-it-yourself zipper hacks, Jeannie Mai hopes to inspire everlasting smiles and shares simple but meaningful ways people with relapsing MS can reinvent their wardrobe and style routine while staying comfortable and confident.
Chispa: Tell us why you chose Reimagine Myself as your platform for spreading tips and awareness of MS?
“My Aunt Linh was diagnosed years ago with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS). I’ve seen the impact it’s had on her life, and how she’s struggled with limitations because of her daily changing conditions. When I heard about Biogen creating a community for family members like me and those living with relapsing MS, I had to jump on board. Plus, it excites me to meet other people and to live a more connected life with people like Aunt Lihn.”
Chispa: How did MS affect your aunt’s self-esteem?
“Relapsing MS can throw your self-esteem for a loop. Some days you are up, some days you are down. But we learned that if we can figure out effective ways to get through the day more efficiently and give Aunt Lihn more reasons to look forward to her life.”
Chispa: Why do you feel that style is so important to maintaining self-esteem?
“Aunt Linh refuses to be defined by her disease and together, we’ve used my style expertise to implement changes to her daily routine to help her feel like her “best self”. I want to share what we’ve learned together with others in the MS community to help them reimagine life with this chronic disease.”
Chispa: What are some universal tips that people with MS can use in everyday style?
“Personal style is the number one therapy to enhance the way you feel. I call it “wearapy”. Your closet is better than a medicine cabinet- full of ideas and inspirations to make you love yourself more just by getting dressed every morning. ReimagineMySelf.com encourages people living with relapsing MS to make small but impactful changes that help to reimagine life with the chronic disease.”
Chispa: What self-care tips do you offer for people with MS? What are some of your own self-care routines?
“Make a list of things that are challenging for you and work with a community like Reimagine MySelf to create solutions.
Make the changes around your living environment to put these ideas into play. So, if this means rearranging your wardrobe, nixing hard to fasten buttons, incorporating empowering colors in your wardrobe, then do it.
Lastly, look at yourself as a hero. Everything you are going through IS helping another person. Tell your story to tell your journey.”
Chispa: Who is someone you personally admire and look up to every day?
“Then and still now, Mama Mai. She has the most free spirit and she taught me you are in control of your own happiness.”
Chispa: Do you feel you’ve reached the goals you’ve set for yourself? If not, what can we look forward to next?
“I am working on a book that will tell the life lessons I knew growing up but didn’t appreciate until now. I have a television series with my mom and I have a fashion idea that’s going to be every womens’ must have.”
Chispa: If Biography were contacting you regarding your recipe for success, what advice would you give others?
“There is always going to be somebody that doesn’t believe in your worth, don’t let it be you.”