Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Disease and Beauty

Earlier this week, Lynn Kohlman passed away. Kohlman was a muse, model, photographer, and sometimes fashion designer. She had a long-time friendship with designer Donna Karan, headed up the DKNY brand when it first began and was one of the original creative minds behind Tommy Hilfiger's success.

She died of brain cancer, a disease she had battled for several years. Before that, she also faced breast cancer, which was treated with a double mastectomy. In 2005, Kohlman published a book called Lynn Front to Back. Most notably, the book addresses learning to live with life-threatening illness.

At the beginning of the book, there are photos honestly showing Kohlman's appearance before and after her cancer surgeries—staples in her head and all. According to her obituary in the New York Times, she wanted to show that her body was more beautiful than ever.

I love the strength and presence it took to embrace the beauty of her new, post-illness body. It's difficult to accept a new identity after diagnosis of an illness. I can't imagine being a model who has to come to terms with a mastectomy and staples across the head. The strength she exhibited is something to celebrate.

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