Health or Beauty: Do We Really Have to Choose by Dr. Cary Gannon

Historically, women have sacrificed their health for beauty – and sometimes with dire consequences. Remember when corsets were a thing? Did you know that the first hair perms actually caused death? Need I say more?

Don’t even get me started on hair removal. Shaving, waxing, plucking and even laser hair removal – all of these cause pain and aren’t even very effective. I have my own personal laser hair removal story, but that’s for another day. Suffice it to say the numbing cream doesn’t work as well as it should!

Whether it’s making straight hair curly or dying our hair cherry, caramel, eggplant or another color named after a food, women have always searched for different ways to alter their looks. Botox is still being used by a large portion of Americans (more specifically, by women), and those with the financial means nip, tuck, implant and lift at will.

In the interest of full disclosure: I have breast implants. After breastfeeding two children my breasts were two completely different sizes: one a full C cup and the other a small A cup. I felt malformed and embarrassed. The decision to get breast implants was personal for me and something I’m still happy with to this day. So I am among the women who can be vulnerable to some of the widely accepted noise defining what is and isn’t beautiful..

Research shows that the average women puts over 500 chemicals in and on her body with her regular beauty routine. As intelligent women, we understand there are chemicals in things like makeup, shampoo, perfume and skin care products, but we almost always choose to forego these concerns for the sake of satisfying an over-generalized idea of true beauty.

Let that sink in: we are potentially harming our bodies to make them appear more attractive.

It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I realized I don’t have to try to be beautiful because I am beautiful. My natural body is beautiful. The fact that we spend so much time and money changing ourselves into what someone else has decided is beautiful tells me it’s time we rediscover beauty.

The good news is that there is hope. People are catching on. There is a global movement toward beauty realism and substance over aesthetics. Dove’s Natural Beauty Campaign swept the nation last year, and is a perfect example of how and why we need to change the way we perceive what is considered beautiful.

Remember, natural is beautiful. You are beautiful. Don’t sacrifice your health for what someone else defines as attractive.

Let me be honest (and remove all possibility of hypocrisy). I’m not going to stop coloring my hair. I really like several beauty products that contain chemicals. I won’t pretend I’m going to stop using any and all chemicals and embrace a completely natural lifestyle.

However, small changes matter. I think it’s important not to wear makeup every day or, if that’s not possible, I recommend wearing less makeup. Embrace the natural texture of your hair (curly, straight, wavy – it’s all beautiful). Any small step you can take toward embracing your natural self is a giant step you can take toward looking and feeling your best exactly as you are right now.

Love yourself. Love your body.


Dr. Cary Gannon is a board-certified podiatric surgeon with a practice in the greater Nashville area. After discovering the disturbing, hidden truths behind the making of many of the products in her industry, Dr. Gannon took matters into her own hands, and AILA Cosmetics was born. In developing AILA Cosmetics, she found balance in her life by intentionally marrying the words health, beauty and function into a gorgeous line of products that empowers women to never settle for less than they’re worth. Visit for more information and to order the AILA collection of luxury nail lacquers and nail care essentials.

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