From Mugshot to Headshot: Sara Ringer Beautifies Health Activism

Sara Ringer, the founder of Inflamed and Untamed: Crohn’s/Colitis Support, one of the founding members of Girls with Guts, has taken on a new project.  In line with her winning Myth Mugshot which stated, “Scars are not disfiguring, they are defining,” Sara has started a new vlog and facebook page to share makeup and hair tips and tricks for other girls living with chronic illness and hopefully give them an extra boost of confidence on days where they may not be feeling so glamorous.  The Sick Girl Beauty Vlog Sara’s videos are super helpful and sassy for sick and non-sick girls a like and we can’t wait to watch her new community grow.


WH:     Tell us what inspired you to start Sick Girl Beauty Vlog:


Sara:    I have another YouTube channel that is geared towards my own community of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis where I was occasionally posting videos with make-up and hair tricks that would help out the ladies who were combating things like “moon face”, hair loss, and just low self-esteem because of what our disease and medications cause to happen to our bodies. The two responses I always got from those videos were the girls loving them and asking me to make more videos, and the guys telling me that they don’t watch them. So I thought to myself, why not make a new YouTube channel for ALL females living with a chronic illness because I know it’s not just my community who deals with these issues. So now us sick girls (or as I like to call us, Chronic Disease Diva’s) have a channel of our own and the guys can stop complaining about all my beauty tips. 😉


WH:     What are some of your personal beauty challenges associated with Crohn’s disease:


Sara:    Currently I treat my disease with remicade infusions and methotrexate injections. Both medications have caused a lot of hair loss and a change in the structure of my hair, they also have caused a lot of skin rashes and problems. Every now and then I have to take steroids either by mouth or IV and i’m sure you all know how evil that is to our bodies. There are times when i’m down around 100 pounds because i’m on intravenous feedings, full of acne from head to toe, thin hair, pale skin, and sweating balls (can I say that?) from prednisone and I wonder how on earth am I going to face the world like this? That is when I have to get creative!


WH:     You already have some great videos about fighting “moon face” and different tips for hair, but what else do you have in the pipeline? How do you figure out these techniques? Trial and error? Research?



Sara:    I grew up in the dance world as a competitive dancer and if you’ve ever watched that crazy show on TV, Dance Mom’s, you’ll notice that those young girls are already amazing at doing their own hair and make-up. Because of dance I learned how to do my own hair and make-up at a really young age and was always playing around with different styles. Growing up I was also a “sick girl” with my first hospitalization at only 10 months old. So both things have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. About 4 years ago I had to give up my original career plan as a high school teacher because my health just doesn’t allow for that job, and so I randomly found a job working the front desk at a high end salon in my area. I was immediately inspired and went into the profession myself. So the past 3 years of my life has been nothing but classes and work with hair, skin, nails, and make-up. I took all my knowledge from the dance world and the beauty industry and applied it to my life as a girl living with a chronic disease. I have plenty more in store for you ladies! You can look forward to beauty hauls, product reviews, hair and make-up tutorials, skin tips, and so much more!


WH:     Your tagline is that “sick does not have to equal unconfident, unattractive, or ugly.” We completely agree given that you’re smokin’, but we bet it has taken awhile to get to a place where you feel good after all that you’ve been through. Can you tell us about this journey? What advice do you have for other “sick girls” that are trying to get their groove back?


Sara:    Oh it most definitely has been quite a journey from there to here!  My longest hospital stay was six months long during which I had 2 major surgeries, had my entire large intestine removed, I was fed intravenously for months, had multiple blood transfusions, and was plagued with complication after complication. When I finally got out of the hospital I was down to 82 pounds, most of my hair had fallen out, I was losing some of my teeth, and had little control over my bowels (so you can imagine). I felt so unattractive and what was worse was having other people tell me I looked like hell too…gee thanks?! I think that all of us girls want to be told that we are beautiful, no matter what age we are. Having a disease takes a huge toll on your self-esteem because the disease itself and the medications that we take cause a lot of things to happen to our bodies that is out of our control.  Even last summer I spent 6 weeks in the hospital and again I was discharged being underweight, full of acne all over from steroids,  I had bruises all over my body from heparin shots, and still had a central line in my arm. When I eventually had to go back to work I panicked because I had no idea how I was going to go back to work IN THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY looking like I did. That’s when I put my sick girl tricks into action!  And that is what it’s all about, It’s about giving you some tips and tricks that make you feel a little more confident and sassy. Our illnesses rob us of so much, but they shouldn’t take away that feeling you get when you feel beautiful. Most importantly though is that your beauty has to come from the inside, the more you present yourself to the world as a strong and confident person the more the world will believe that. You are beautiful, you’re living every day of your life battling a disease. It takes a strong person to do that and to me that’s a beautiful thing, and you should be proud of that.


WH:     What are some of the most common beauty questions/frustrations you’ve heard from other “sick girls”?


Sara:    Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions about hair. I’ve been asked about hairstyles girls can do for thinning hair or simple hair styles that girls with arthritis can do who are not able to use their hands and arms much.


WH:     You have a background in beauty and dance – last week’s #HA Chat focused on identity and diagnosis, how did your identity change when you got really sick and you could no longer dance? Have you been able to return to it?


Sara:    Oh you just hit such an emotional topic for me!  This is hard for me to talk about because dance was/is the love of my life. My identity for 20 years was a dancer/dance teacher/choreographer – that was who I was. I’ve had many hospitalizations but the one that changed me forever was the one where I was there for six months after being very sick for so long. Once I was discharged I was down to 82 pounds and I had lost all my muscle from laying in a hospital bed for so long that I couldn’t even walk up the stairs in my house to get to my bedroom when I got home. Twenty years of training in dance, and six months in a hospital stole all my muscle and flexibility away from me. That was really hard for me to accept, especially losing my flexibility.  I haven’t gotten back into the dance world since then,  but I do think that identity is an important topic for those living with a chronic illness. I think it’s important that we don’t define ourselves by our disease or at least ONLY by our disease. My identity has changed but I still don’t define myself as “sick”. Crohn’s disease and arthritis are just a part of who I am, and a pretty cool part because I honestly believe I am a better person than I would have ever been if I hadn’t gone through all of this.  I am able to like myself and be proud of myself today whereas before I was always running after perfection, and now I know that being perfect just means being me.


WEGO Health would like to extend a big thanks (and hug!) to Sara for taking the time to answer our questions, but also for participating in our Myth Mugshots photo contest and being such a supporter of WEGO Health. Please be sure to “Like” this interview and Sara’s Sick Girl Beauty Vlog Facebook page and help spread the word to fabulous ladies everywhere.



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