Thoughts on Glamour, HIV/AIDS, Giving, and Elizabeth Taylor

Liz Taylor testifies to Congress

We don't normally stray from the topic of perfume, but given Thanksgiving and World AIDS Day, I feel compelled to write about how to reconcile my indulgent lifestyle with all the world's problems that are usually so easy for me to ignore. I'd love to know your thoughts, too.

If only glamour saved lives.

That thought occurred to me more than once this weekend while I lazily stuffed my gullet, napped, and watched old movies. As wars raged overseas and families went hungry across town, I took another bite of pumpkin cheesecake and fretted about such frivolity as whether Guerlain Vol de Nuit would have been a better choice to wear for dinner or if maybe my 1940s leg-‘o-mutton-sleeved coat was a bit de trop for a family gathering.

World AIDS Day especially hit home. My day job is to write grants for an AIDS service organization, and as I sit in my windowless office (dubbed “Grants Tomb”), I see just how deep a swath HIV/AIDS still cuts through the world and how many lives are lost, families bankrupted, and people ostracized because of it. Then I shut off my computer and go home to loll on the couch with a novel and martini.

Shouldn’t I be doing more? And yet, what do I have to offer?

Elizabeth Taylor proved that glamour could, indeed, save lives. “I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything,” she said. “And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help.”1 In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Liz traded on her celebrity and became National Founding Chairman of amfAR and testified in front of the Congress, practically wagging a vividly manicured finger at the committee to shame them into responding. She also founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, funded in part by profits from the sales of her perfumes.2

Liz did all this when the stigma of being HIV positive was so strong that some people would refuse to use the same coffee cup as a person carrying the virus. She could have easily retreated to Beverly Hills and taken calls from Merv Griffin while her Maltese dogs frolicked next to her jewelry boxes. She knew people would gossip when she was on the cover of Vanity Fair holding a condom. Heck, most women of her generation wouldn’t even say the word “condom” in public. None of that stopped her from becoming an AIDS activist.

Before we get back to Liz and reconciling glamour and giving, please indulge me with a brief aside on HIV/AIDS. The virus may have dropped from the headlines since Tom Hanks won an Oscar for Philadelphia, but the fact is that more people live with HIV/AIDS today than ever before — 1.2 million in the United States alone. Of those people, about one in five don’t know they’re HIV positive. That one in five is responsible for at least half, if not three-quarters, of new HIV infections. Worse yet, HIV infections are on the rise among young American adults. Being HIV positive is less obvious now due to drugs that fend off AIDS, but the flip side is that people don’t talk about HIV/AIDS much anymore.

The good new is that HIV tests are now free or cheap3 and only take 20 minutes for results. If you do test positive and stay in medical treatment, your odds of passing on the virus plummet to less than 4%. HIV-positive women can now bear children who carry no trace of the virus. Even more exciting, a potential yet promising vaccine and even a possible cure are in the works (although many years away). And you can still kiss people who are HIV positive, share drinking glasses, work side-by-side with them, and feel fully confident having them as doctors, waiters, teachers, and more with absolutely no risk of becoming infected.4

So, back to glamour. How do we make a difference in the world if we’re not cut out to live in redwood tree tops or move to Calcutta to work at Mother Teresa’s? What if we don’t have Elizabeth Taylor’s fame to use as currency (and who does)? What if we love our perfume and vintage dresses? Liz’s example inspires me with a few ideas:

First, we can give to causes we believe in. Even if you’re totally broke, you can give something: $10, an afternoon helping an elderly woman in your neighborhood go grocery shopping, a few hours walking dogs at the shelter. Next, like Liz, we can talk about the hard things, the things people would rather avoid. It doesn’t mean we have to crusade day and night, but fear limits potentially constructive conversations about so much, from mental illness to unemployment to, yes, acknowledging the fact that people have sex and can become infected with viruses if they’re not careful. I’d love a world where someone could leave her HIV medications on her bathroom counter without worrying her guests will panic or judge her.

Here’s my favorite and easiest way to do good in the world, and it's where it comes back to perfume and glamour. We can create the world we want to live in by creating a personal culture of giving, love, mindfulness, and beauty — go perfume! — in our everyday lives.

How do you reconcile your potentially frivolous love of perfume with the state of the world? Have you figured out a way to bring together glamour with the desire to do good?

1. Quote from the amfAR website.

2. See reviews for White Diamonds, Black Pearls, Forever Elizabeth, and Violet Eyes.

3. Depending on where you go. See here for a list of U.S. test locations.

4. Pardon me for stating the obvious above, but a 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that more than a third of Americans hold one of these misconceptions to be true.

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Luckyscent Parfums Raffy

54 Comments

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  1. LloydLlewellyn says:

    Thank you for this brilliant post!

    • Angela says:

      Thank you! I’m really glad you liked it.

  2. Ericgmd says:

    Angela,
    Thank you for tackling such a heavy topic on an otherwise cheerful website such as NowSmellThis. I too have felt a lot of guilt in almost everything I do or acquire nowadays. From the ability to purchase the necessities of life to the most frivolous items. I often wonder that the food left in plates in food service across the US could feed the entire Sub-Saharan African continent.
    But where to start? And what would happen to our nation’s economy if we ignore the fun and other luxuries of life and stick to the bare necessities to survive?
    Does anyone really need an adorned piece of clothing when plain layers of jersey will do? The same thinking goes towards perfume. Ivory Soap really smells nice and if its fragrance lingered to our skins from shower to shower, why would an additional fragrance that imparts the smell of clean musky skin be needed?
    If I go on, I won’t be able to stop and I fear that I will miss out on life’s “pleasures” completely.
    I realized that during this Holiday Season, it’s probably best for me to continue to do good as much as I know how. And to continue to do it…
    Thank you again for this article.

    • Angela says:

      I completely understand the dilemma! I have a friend who’s a leader in her religious community, and she says that we all create cultures by the way we live. I think creating beauty is an important part of a personal culture–not overconsumption, but simply appreciating things and thinking of beauty when you eat, dress, enjoy coffee in your living room, etc. Enjoying a seat by a sunny window or a good novel is practically free and open to just about anyone. But when does it go too far?

  3. chandler_b says:

    Beautifully written, you can tell just from your writing how much you trully care :) Hopefully the cure will come soon enough, but the lack of information about HIV and prevention is astounding, we need more Liz’s in this world!

    • Angela says:

      The first step is simply to talk about HIV. There’s so much stigma around it. Aside from at work, I can’t even remember the last time I heard someone bring up HIV or AIDS. Yes, bring on more Liz-like people!

  4. Ari says:

    Thank you for this wonderful piece, Angela. The most immediate way I can think of to combine glamour with HIV-prevention efforts is to buy a MAC Viva Glam product (not affiliated, just a big fan- I have 4 VG lipsticks and love them all). 100% of proceeds go to the MAC AIDS fund, and they have a very cute set for the holidays.

    • Angela says:

      Of course! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that, especially as a grant writer who just got a $25,000 grant from the MAC AIDS Fund.

      My favorite Viva Glam lipstick is III.

  5. Rappleyea says:

    A beautiful and profound post, and I think very timely.

    You referenced Mother Teresa, and one of my favorite quotes from that font of wisdom is, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” If each of us would do whatever small thing we can *with great love* the world will be a much better place. And I think your grant writing is a perfect example.

    How do I reconcile my love of perfume… I have basically quit buying perfume as I have more than I will ever wear. So I try to be sensible about my hobby and not be needlessly acquisitive when the money would be better spent making a donation to my local food shelter.

    And I do believe that it is quite all right to take care of ourselves and to enjoy beautiful things. I think enjoying and appreciating beauty in this world is very important to our souls.

    • Angela says:

      I love that Mother Teresa quote! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed simply listening to the news. Even a friendly smile in response to someone grouchy does good.

  6. Erin says:

    So glad to see this posted – thanks, Angela! Was just reading the Stephen Lewis post over the weekend, reminding people that HIV/AIDS is not over. With the justifable pride in global awareness efforts and zero-transmission goals, the work on vaccines, and most importantly, the success of the ARV therapies that are so prolonging lives and extending the clinical latency period, the funding for HIV/AIDS and the acknowledgement of the threat and suffering are dropping radically. It’s so important that it does do not fall off our radar that there are still 35 million people living with the virus worldwide, and still, of course, new transmissions. Since my last sample purchase, I’ve been in my Guilty Liberal stage, too (Stage 6?) and so this post was well-timed for me.

    Last year, for WAD, I sold a bunch of my not-used perfumes and donated the money to an AIDS charity. This year, I’ve cleared the way with my boss for taking partial days off twice monthly to volunteer for the same charity. While I do not think I will be bringing Taylor-level glamour to my volunteering, I guess it’s a start on doing something.

    • Rappleyea says:

      “guilty liberal stage” – Love it! I think I’ve been there for a couple of years now. For me, it seems to be age related as well.

      • Angela says:

        I’m there, too….

    • Angela says:

      That’s great! I love it that you’ve chosen HIV/AIDS as your charity–although there are certainly lots more choices that are worthy, too.

      I hope you get the chance to volunteer at an event, because they can be really fun in the HIV/AIDS world.

  7. kb2003 says:

    Angela,

    As one of the 35 million global citizens living with HIV, I thank you for this post from the bottom of my heart, and share your lament that too few people take the opportunity to talk about it.

    In addition to volunteering with SAGE in New York, I reconcile my love of perfume by trying to be as open as possible about my status in my everyday life in the effort to fight HIV stigma, and being truly grateful that I still have my life, my health, and my capacity to appreciate the beauty of things like perfume.

    Kudos, thanks, lots of love…
    Arthur

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for being open about your status! I know how difficult it can be, and yet it’s the surest way to break the back of the stigma surrounding HIV. I’m sending a big virtual hug and couple of kisses your way…

  8. Holly says:

    Wow. Angela, this is my first post although I have been tempted for years to jump in. I had actually planned on doing so today regardless…

    My birthday was November 28th. It was Thanksgiving and Hanukkah as well, and I decided to finally have some fun and treat myself to being part of the NST community. I was spurred on particularly by the Tauer Advent Calendar as well as I just adore the small daily thrill of opening up a small door or window and seeing what lies within.

    So, I was looking forward to having some fun and being frivolous. I must admit I can’t afford much, and I can feel frustrated when I read about what’s out there and know it’s out of reach.

    So here I was ready to plunge ahead into happy hedonism after being given some birthday bucks and blammo!

    Thank-you so much, Angela. I think you and NST are profoundly brave to venture into this arena. I would like to tell you that I worked as an RN on an HIV/AIDs unit back in the 80′s when there was such a thing here in the US.

    HIV/AIDS does remain a problem. One thing I have learned over my many years on this planet is that people usually do what they’re doing to try and be happy. While that may sound incredibly facile, I hope you will try it on when you wonder why on earth people behave the way they do. Even better, apply it to someone who makes you absolutely crazy! How is that relevant? At this point in time, management of this disease often comes down to personal choice, which can be very difficult. There are so many issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, and many of them are political, economic and most profoundly culturally based. Those who are affected are influenced by community, religion, politics, culture, family, economics …. and that elusive hunt for peace and joy as they believe it to be and wish to experience it.

    To me, every day is an Advent Calendar. The opportunity to open a door, see what’s inside and embrace it and give thanks. I did make a couple of purchases (Rose Jam, unsniffed, thanks NST!). How will this purchase better the world? It’s up to me.

    • Angela says:

      What a thoughtful response! Thank you! I wish we could have a cup of coffee together and talk about it some more, because it sounds like you have lots of wisdom to share.

      Enjoy that Rose Jam!

      • Holly says:

        Thank YOU for taking the time to broach this subject and for responding to my post. I really appreciate it.

        • Angela says:

          You’re welcome!

    • Oakland Fresca says:

      Every day is an Advent Calendar… thank you for that. Perfect.

      • Angela says:

        You just have to find the door where that little morsel of chocolate is stashed away….

      • Holly says:

        Thanks!

    • robini71 says:

      “To me, every day is an Advent Calendar. The opportunity to open a door, see what’s inside and embrace it and give thanks.” that is just lovely and I think I’ll always keep that quote with me I hope you don’t mind. It is a literary thing of beauty you created there. One year just before the Holidays I became the victim of crime and actually contemplated skipping celebrating holidays that year. But I heard about someone who was collecting gifts of fragrance for women at a homeless shelter. It was nearly the deadline but something made me participate. It reminded me of all the childhood holiday shopping seasons characterized by buying gifts of fragrance. When the event was described it was the phrase about giving the “Joy” of fragrance to these women that jumped out at me. After all everyone should experience the fragrance of Joy once in their lives even if they don’t like it. Suddenly there I was running around buying Shalimar, L’Air Du Temps, and joy and writing up little cards to go with them indicating fragrance notes and why I’d selected each for whomever would receive them. Suddenly without even realizing it the joy of the season extended its tentative wings in my heart and took flight. “Hope is the thing with feathers” it’s been said and indeed hope is a powerful thing. Some might say how frivolous and stupid even to give expensive perfume to women who face such huge obstacles and challenges. But I thought maybe for a moment they’d feel cared about, luxurious and remember that there’s beauty in the world. No it might not have changed a thing about their current circumstances but maybe just maybe it could change their perspective about the world and themselves in it and maybe just maybe that could change their lives or at least add beauty to it in some way.
      Thus for me a neat tradition was born for a few years restoring the joy of the holiday season hopefully not just for myself and it was such a fun way to feel as though one could do some sort of good through the beauty that is fragrance in our world that so often spurns and diminishes it these days.

      And I quite agree Liz was truly a gutsy and classy broad indeed.
      Blessings to all you love in this world.
      Robin

      • Angela says:

        What a fabulous story! And it’s about as clear a link as you can get between giving and perfume. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I bet you really did change some lives.

      • Holly says:

        Thanks. Such a lovely story, and your sharing it is a gift today.

  9. austenfan says:

    I recently watched a (Dutch) documentary about HIV in Russia. It was very shocking as the distribution of HRV medicine was at best random and more often incomplete. Apparently HIV is spreading like mad there. Lots of food for thought, as is your post today. Thanks for straying off the perfume path!
    I was never a big fan of Taylor as an actress but have always admired her guts.

    • Angela says:

      Liz (somehow that’s how I can’t help but think of her) is truly a gutsy broad–and I mean that in the best way.

  10. Omega says:

    Thanks Angela:). I have been saying often to myself and to my spouse..why isn’t AIDS talked about anymore? Surely, it’s still rampant …why silence it? Why silence that people need to have safe and smart sex? Why silence that one shouldn’t have too many partners/have unprotected sex to prevent AIDS? Going off on a rabbit hole here perhaps but maybe, just maybe sex isn’t regarded as something sacred anymore or is becoming less sacred…i.e. this hooking up trend/one night stand/no strings attached stuff is a part of just not caring about/not paying attention to the possible consequences of sex. When I was younger, AIDS was talked about all the time. Yikes, my first sex ed class!!! But I am sooo glad for that class. I still thought guys had cooties at that age of 11 but man, man, I never forgot that class. How could I? It was shocking but so informative at the same time. What I remember most about was the brutally honest facts on AIDS. Like this is what could happen if you do A, B, C…etc. For the record, I’ve been tested. SIX vials of blood though! Ugh. But glad I was tested, couldn’t recommend that test enough.

    As far as giving back…I love animals and have volunteered for various animal shelters in the community.

    Thanks again Angela, as usual your posts are always top notch!

    • Angela says:

      I love animal causes and always adopt shelter pets! Thank you for supporting that.

      Your comment makes me remember the old ACT UP slogan “Silence=Death.” Also, for a rapid HIV test now, you wouldn’t have to give so much blood. You can get a finger prick test or even a test where they swab the inside of your mouth–no blood needed.

      • Oakland Fresca says:

        I was thinking of that slogan “Silence=Death” as I read your blog. Amnesty’s metaphor of lighting a candle (from founder Peter Benenson’s quote, “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness) also comes to mind. Thanks for lighting a candle and sharing your thoughts… I have worked in the human rights field for nearly 20 years, and the most intractable issues remain those about which no one speaks. I also volunteered with San Francisco’s Shanti project many moons ago.

        …although finding one’s own path to being a good citizen in the world often means exploring what you are willing to give up in order to give more, I have yet to meet a person who is HIV+, or a victim of human rights abuses, who felt that their challenges and suffering were caused or exacerbated by people thoughtfully and respectfully indulging their passions. I guess what I am trying to say is that the journey of becoming who you are is related to—but not the same as—finding out how you can make a difference, although both are indispensible to an examined life.

        • Angela says:

          That’s so wise! Thank you for weighing in.

          Thanks, too, for all the work you’re doing.

      • Omega says:

        Wow, I wished I would have had those options!!! Six vials wasn’t fun at all. Well then, no excuse for not being tested these days I guess!!! That’s great those options are available. Thanks for letting me/us know:).

        • Angela says:

          I really don’t like needles, so it’s the kind of thing I pay attention to.

  11. olenska says:

    Beautiful, heartfelt, and rousing post, Angela.

    A very dear friend of mine with a background in museum curation clued me in to “Day With(out) Art”, a World AIDS Day initiative which focuses attention on the impact AIDS/HIV has had on the arts community over the last 35 years. She and I have partnered on DWoA events at the public library at which we both work– mounting 24-hour installations that challenge visitors to imagine what a single day without color, line, form, dimension, viewpoint, beauty, inspiration, self-expression, connection, or hope would be like. This is what the loss of so many creative voices amounts to, and it is still ongoing. Thank you for this reminder.

    • Angela says:

      AIDS really devastated the art community in the United States. The agency I work for has a small HIV/AIDS archive, and some of the ephemera from the early days of the epidemic is gorgeous and engaging, thanks to the art community’s involvement.

      • olenska says:

        So true, and so long as the stories keep passing and the images keep rising up, it will never be forgotten. :)

        (Yesterday, I found myself utterly compelled to tell an artist friend the tale of Félix González-Torres, whose “candy spill” and “poster-pile” installations encouraged visitors to help themselves– all for free. The art itself was designed to slowly diminish over time, and yet it might be added to when no one was looking– does that NOT sound like perfume, in a way? When people debate whether or not fragrance is an art, I think of Félix González-Torres. And I say yes, yes, yes.)

        • Angela says:

          I love that story! I’m going to look up Gonzalez-Torres and learn more about him.

  12. Holly says:

    Angela, one further note I hope will be helpful to you and everyone who reads this. Bone marrow donors are needed for many people who have Burkitt’s Lymphoma secondary to HIV/AIDS. Registering to be a potential donor can be done online, and only requires a cheek swab. Interested? Go to bethematch.org. You don’t even need to leave the house! There’s no guarantee your recipient will have an HIV-related condition, but this is definitely something everyone can do. And if you’re called, you can save a life.

    Too much to think about? Stop thinking :)

    • Angela says:

      I’d never even heard of that website. Thanks for the information. Donating bone marrow sounds scary, I admit. I did get over my fear of needles (to some extent) to donate blood, though.

      • Holly says:

        Oh, I understand, Angela. I just wanted to mention it. Registering does imply that you are willing to donate marrow if you are a match. I would like to let you know that the actual donation process is done in the OR, under anesthesia, and the donor goes home the same day.

        • Angela says:

          And it really is giving life! A pretty great gift.

  13. hajusuuri says:

    Wonderful post, Angela. Over the years, I had been impacted by people who lost the battle to HIV/AIDS…a neighbor, a co-worker. My company used to do a lot more in terms of spreading the word / sponsoring HIV/AIDS-related stuff (like showing the quilt) but I haven’t heard too much about it lately in Company News…you’ve made me curious to see what we’ve done lately!

    I recently resigned my position as a Board Member of a not-for-profit faith-based literacy organization. I am passionate about the cause but feel I can make a difference elsewhere without being a board member. I should double my efforts to find “IT”. As to any possible guilt about spending on frivolous things like perfumes, bath products, etc. (ok, I’ll take the tomato hits for using frivolous and perfumes in the same sentence), I have none since my perfume spending is less than half of what I give to charity (and how I wish perfume spending is tax-deductible…it’s a hobby!). If ever the time comes that the “balance of trade” between charitable giving and perfume spending tips towards perfume, I will absolutely do without perfumes until that balance shifts back!

    Again, great post and thanks for re-sparking the awareness.

    • Angela says:

      Literacy is a tremendous cause–good work! It would be wonderful, too, to spend time, as you say, finding the “it” cause to devote more time to. In my lottery dreams, I put aside a million as capital to live off, then I give the rest to charity. Sometimes it’s to an animal shelter, sometimes to an AIDS organization, sometimes to the library…and the list goes on. It’s a fun fantasy, at least.

  14. Marjorie Rose says:

    As a middle school health (and science) teacher, I include conversations about HIV and other STDs with my students. I have learned to expect my students’ responses that assume that HIV/AIDS isn’t really an issue anymore. They are surprised to learn that there isn’t a cure, that it still kills people, and that numbers of infected people are still on the rise. I’m not sure where this perception comes from, but it is VERY common. All I can assume is that it is the lack of conversation that gives the impression that it is no longer a problem.

    • Angela says:

      I agree–I think a big part is the stigma that surrounds being HIV positive. It can be easy to hide having the virus, and when people can be so afraid and uninformed about it, you might feel like you had a target on your back if you were openly positive. That’s why I have so much respect for people with the courage to be openly positive.

  15. floragal says:

    Very thoughtful post, Angela. Thank you for having the courage to challenge us a bit.

    Perfume to me is not frivolous, but in fact brings a good amount of joy to my life. That being said, there comes a point for me when I’m giving it a little more attention and yes, even money, than I know is good. I guess you could say this about anything we enjoy in life. Finding balance can be difficult.
    And yet what I get in return for the time, energy and money I’ve donated over the years to make a positive difference in someone’s life who has need far supersedes any bottle of whatever scent I’m currently in love with.

    • Angela says:

      Perfume sure brings me joy, too! And it’s taught me to tune into the moment better, too, and to pay attention. These are valuable gifts.

  16. nozknoz says:

    I used to work in international health, and I would say that one of the times when the international community truly exceeded expectations was joining forces in the late early 2000s to extend HIV treatment to Africa and other countries most affected by the HIV pandemic. This required ten times the funding that had been available previously and a long-term commitment (since people who start ARV treatment need to remain on it for life without interruption). Cynic or realist that I am, I would have bet against this happening, and I fully expected that our descendants would have reason to look back on us in dismay, unable to comprehend how wealthy, educated people had been able to stand by while millions died. But countries did step up to this challenge, and most of us can take some comfort in knowing that a tiny percentage of our income taxes are making a huge difference.

    I so admire Liz and would also note that another star deserves to be highlighted for his work on AIDS in Africa – Bono of U2.

    I’d like to think that smelling good and doing good are not mutually exclusive. I’m glad you posted on this topic; this is a great time of the year to contemplate life priorities and rebalance as needed.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad to hear about the good work done overseas. I wish medication were less expensive, too, although I may be opening a can of worms even to bring that up.

      And yes, kudos to Bono!

  17. Julia says:

    I’m a social worker and public health educator working primarily with non-profit HIV service providers. I’ve done a little bit of everything including outreach, counseling and testing, case management, and a little bit of grant writing. We received money from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. She was a warrior, a force of nature, in the early days and I think that’s her most important legacy.
    I’ve also volunteered with the Names Project Memorial Quilt submitting panels from friends and clients. I was there the last time the entire Quilt was displayed in October 1996 in Washington DC and it covered the National Mall. I happened to be assigned the segment with Freddy Mercury’s panel which was a big draw and sort of reminiscent of the way he was relentlessly hounded by paparazzi in the last weeks and days of his life. Fame is a blessing and a curse. People like Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana understood how to use their glamour and star power to bring attention and money to worthy causes but the flip side is people like Rock Hudson and Freddy Mercury fighting for a little bit of privacy and dignity at the end of their lives.
    It’s hard to one of “those” people. It’s hard to be looked at and see the mixture of pity and sympathy in somebody’s eyes that also includes a little bit of relief that it isn’t them. I realized I was one of those people when I was in the hospital receiving my first round of chemotherapy and I was given a generic get well card made by a child as part of a community service project. People mean well, but it sucks to be told that you’re lucky they have such good treatments available today and you should be happy you’re doing so good on them. Really? If we were really lucky we wouldn’t have one of these diseases and its hard to feel happy about meds that cost a fortune, have horrendous side effect profiles and may eventually lose their efficacy and then what are you doing to do?
    Sorry for the tangent. As far as reconciling or rationalizing having something glamorous or “frivolous” like fine perfume when people out there are suffering, I really don’t think you have to. It’s okay to have things that are beautiful and give you pleasure. Maybe you also give back by giving money and time to a worthy cause of your choice or maybe you don’t. Maybe just having or doing something that makes you happy and lifts your spirits puts positive energy out there is enough. I think people should take their happiness when and where they can
    Thank you for another beautiful and thoughtful article, Angela.
    XO – J

    • Angela says:

      Oh Julia, thank you so much for your comment. First, I think it’s fabulous all the HIV/AIDS work you’ve done. It must have been amazing to be with the quilt in D.C.!

      Next, I’ve never gone through a health crisis, but I can understand what a drag it would be to have people say, “Look on the bright side, you could have (insert potential disaster here).” I’m sure those people mean well, but, really? The card from the child was sweet, but let’s get real. They should have handed you a bottle of tequila and blown you a kiss. (Just kidding. Well, no, not really.)

      I’m a fan of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Fund, too. They bought us $7,000 worth of HIV tests last year, and interacting with everyone at the foundation was a real pleasure.

  18. Filomena says:

    Angela, a wonderful, on-spot and timely post.
    Thank you!

    • Angela says:

      You’re welcome!

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