Introduce yourself—name, age, and occupation.
My name is Tammy Ratliff. I’m 50 years old. I worked in the staffing industry for nearly 20 years, and retired last year. I live in Dixon, Tennessee, about 40 miles west of Nashville.
What drove you to enter the #HelloImFabulous Contest?
I’ve always loved Chico’s style, so when I saw the “Hello, I’m Fabulous” contest, I wanted to be a part of it. When I wear Chico’s clothing, I feel fabulous. Coming from where I’ve come from, and overcoming some of the obstacles I’ve overcome, feeling fabulous is a really great thing.
What are the obstacles you’ve overcome?
In 2006, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, and underwent surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. In 2014, it came back in my liver, so I started chemotherapy again. During all the treatments, you have a lot of side effects that affect your appearance. It starts to play on your self-esteem a little bit. One of the biggest things I did to get through the treatments, and to make me feel more like me again, was to take notice of my appearance. I’ve always been a high-maintenance person. I decided during my treatment that I wasn’t going to start wearing sweats and stop wearing makeup. That wasn’t me before cancer, and it sure wasn’t going to be me going through treatment, no matter how badly I felt. Wearing colorful clothes, doing my makeup, and drawing in my eyebrows after I lost my hair made me happy, made me smile, and gave me joy.
How did feeling like you look great help you feel better?
Nobody wants to look sick. I think making the effort helped, because people only saw the positive in me which in turn, made me more positive. They see the beauty. It’s like when you leave the hairdresser; you’re a foot taller, and you’re smiling. It gives you confidence. When you go through some of these cancer treatments, you gain weight, your body changes. One of the side effects of cancer treatment is lymphedema (swelling) in the arm. When you’re wearing something that draws attention to the negative things, it zaps your confidence. When you can put something on that camouflages some of those things, and makes you feel normal, you just feel beautiful. I also take care of my skin. I get up and I use good products. I don’t wear the same outfit twice—I change things up and wear them differently. Even in my home, I change décor in towels, and colors, and bedspreads all the time (to my husband’s disappointment.)
How would you describe your style?
I’m pretty classic. I used to like a lot of things very tailored. As I’ve gotten older, I’m trying new shapes and having more fun. I don’t care as much about what other people think. My father’s 71, and my brother is 45. All of us dress in a little different style, not khakis and buttoned down shirts. I think we’ve all learned to like that. That makes us different. That makes us stand out, but we stand out in a positive way.
What are you loving right now in your life?
My freedom. I quit working last year as a result of the cancer coming back. Now I have time to go have lunch with girlfriends, or go make a casserole, or go shopping. I used to work all the time. I just got back from a two week vacation where I had time to spend with my 71-year-old father and my husband. We’ve never, the three of us, been able to have a vacation together before. It was great.
How do you manage to be so positive?
Cancer may take some of my years, but I’m doggone if I’m going to let it take my days.
I think you have to be, because everybody has days they want to hide under the covers in the bed, and just pray for it all to go away, but it doesn’t happen. I’ve always followed the philosophy that you have to play the cards that you were dealt. You can’t change every circumstance, but you can change how you react to it. I’m pretty stubborn. Cancer is a thing I have, but it’s not who I am. I want to be able to do everything I can, so that I feel good. I don’t want to be limited by having cancer.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Having confidence gives you freedom. If you gain confidence through your appearance, then by all means take that extra time, spend that extra dollar. You are so worth it. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone who is so afraid to express themselves, especially in clothing, when you see those folks, you know there’s a little glimmer of light in them. They want some bling somewhere, but they’re afraid to do it for fear of what other people think. Maybe it’s not the way they were raised or their friends don’t dress that way. Tell them to take the chance. What do you have to lose?