In an unprecedented time that is shattering all facades, and forcing us to look inward, how does it change our concept of beauty?

How are you treating yourself in this difficult time?

I spent the first three weeks of quarantining in my NYC bedroom alone. When we decided to move temporarily upstate as a family, I packed 80% pajama slash casual clothes, left my showy new “fakeskin” snakeskin boots (absolutely useless in the mountains) on the bedroom floor and a stuffed a few jumpsuits in for the Zoom speaking engagements I knew I still had coming up.

On Day 2 of social-distancing with both parents, my usually Armani-clad dad met my mother’s new boyfriend while sitting on our mostly deserted street in a plush pink bath robe (he borrowed from my mother) with his dinosaur toenails on full display. A true power move!

My cousin was teased recently for showing up in a button-down shirt for a Zoom office meeting where everyone else including the boss was in PJs (he did admit that he had on pajama bottoms underneath that button-down, but still). People are proudly broadcasting on TV from their unmanicured bedrooms and becoming their own hairstylist or barber (with varied results). It seems freeing that people are letting their roots show, their hair flow and grow.

Maybe how free you feel to “let go” depends on who you are quarantining with, but unless you are Dolly Parton (who famously wears makeup to bed in case of a fire) it seems most of us have thrown caution to the wind when it comes to appearances – whether our homes or our bodies. And when bad news surrounds us and survival is paramount, who can blame us? This is a time when many of us are valuing nature more and putting life above all other “beautiful” things. The external doesn’t seem to matter as much as the internal. As a whole, it seems we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, not hiding our flaws or pain. Prayer and meditation are more than frivolous or merely fashionable.

But should we let go completely and what happens when we go out into the world again? Will we see ourselves or others the same way again? 

Xian Horn Before and After Zoom Speaking Sessions

I must say, after a week dominated by death notices and leisurewear, it felt good to put on my favorite red jumpsuit or my lace Easter dress for a Zoom with 200 new virtual friends. It felt good to do my hair up. It felt like self-care. Some of you may be dressing or grooming  the same as always and doing it for yourself. And for this, I applaud you. I also applaud you if just don’t feel like it. Some us with too much time to think, are being harder on ourselves than ever. I’ve always said we make our own beauty standards, and that we need to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others. Now seems like the essential time to do just that.

Whatever you look or feel like right now, I want to say: it’s ok. Give yourself grace – if you’ve loss weight or gained it. Do what you can, learn what you can, and love yourself and others the best you can. My hope is we hold on to the inherent freedom and power we have to not judge ourselves or others so easily or harshly, not just now in these strange times, but always. 


  • Xian Horn

    Beauty and Disability Advocate, Teacher, Founder

    Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, who serves as a teacher, speaker, beauty advocate, blogger, and Exemplar for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge toward the creation of Assistive Technology. Xian was named Women's eNews' 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2017 and in Walker's Legacy Power 15 in 2018 and the first-ever Positive Exposure Rising Leader Award in 2021. Give Beauty Wings’ tailored Self-Esteem programs began at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities, and serve as a bridge to promote greater self-love and discovery, purpose, and connection. She aims to reconceptualize disability representation in fashion, beauty, and media and move accessible design forward by working with Anna Sui, Derek Lam, Parsons, Pratt and F.I.T. Xian is invested in contributing positively to our concept of self-esteem and the collective purpose, especially for girls and women. She is the founder of the “Give Beauty Wings” Self-Esteem program (and subsequent non-profit) which originated at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities, the Jewish Community Center Manhattan, and nationally. Xian is an award-winning speaker and contributor at Forbes and Ariana Huffington's Thrive Global and has been featured in The White House Blog's Women Working To Do Good series, the New York Times, NPR, Fast Company, NBC News, Fox 5, and Yahoo Life among others.