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How bold beauty rituals helped me accept my Parkinson's diagnosis

Rather than shy away and hide, Emma Lawton embraced sparkle to help come to terms with her illness

parkinsons beauty
Updated: March 20, 2023
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I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 29; immediately, I knew I was going to stand out and people were going to look at me in public. I quickly realised I could either choose to embrace that or shy away and hide.

I went through a short phase of wanting to hide. I didn’t want anyone to look at me. I looked shaky, I looked strange and I looked awkward, but I came through that and felt like I wanted to stand out for reasons I was in control of — not just because I was shaking. 

Dying my hair and jumping headfirst into wearing rainbow brights was my first step into accepting who I was. 

Woman with parkinsons wearing brightly coloured clothes with pink hair

Emma dyed her hair pink to stand out 

People are quite scared of others doing strange things, such as shaking, because we're naturally wary of strangers acting differently. But if you have pink hair and you’re wearing bright colours then it tells others: "I'm not trying to hide." That helped me decide to dye my hair a bold, punchy pink, and to start wearing rainbow colours and accessorising with sequins. 

Having pink hair gave me a conversation starter when people didn't know what to say. People will now approach me and say: "I really love your hair". and it starts a conversation.

It bridges the gap between the awkward meeting where my neck might be in an odd position or I’m really shaky, and provides a great topic of conversation.

parkinsons pink hair

Emma wears jazzy clothes for a positive vibe

As for my rainbow wardrobe, wearing bright colours made me feel more upbeat and happier; I started wearing really sparkly clothes to help me stand out too.

I was doing a lot of public speaking events — and because I shake, wearing sequins means I’m like a human glitter ball, so it’s quite fun. If I do talks now and don't wear something shiny, people always ask why I'm not wearing sequins. It's kind of become my identity, I have to!

Wearing bright colours has made me feel more upbeat and happier, and wearing bold makeup cheers me up too. 

I always wear a pink lip and I have stamp makeup tools to help me do my eyeliner flicks when my hands are shaking. I really missed being able to do my liner flicks; I didn't feel like myself without them and I looked sleepy, so the tool is really handy. 

I miss nail varnish because I struggle to put it on myself and if I do, by the time I'm done, it's off again. 

My daily beauty rituals help improve my happiness. If my hair is freshly dyed, I feel very happy. It's my trademark; people see me and navigate to me, which is definitely great for starting a conversation and has helped me find a new way to connect with others. I won't be changing it any time soon. 

Visit Parkinson's UK for more information and support.

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