Have you ever heard the saying “in a world full of Kardashians, be an Audrey (Hepburn)?”
When it comes to raising girls in today’s world, I am reassured that there are women in the aesthetics field that promote a graceful approach to aging that enhances natural inner and outer beauty—much like the iconic faces before this time. Yet, it’s nearly impossible to navigate this field if you haven’t first discovered a love for what makes you beautiful too.
Here, meet a local mother that has navigated this journey from every angle and every feminine feature.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming an APRN-C and what motivated you to pursue this career?
Lauren Suttell: I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something that would directly impact and help others. My mom was a nurse and she was my initial inspiration by the way she cared and showed compassion for others and in the ways she would express her love to me and my brother and sister. She was a caregiver at heart, always putting those she loved before herself.
My father was a Prosthodontist (cosmetic dentist) in St. Petersburg for over 30 years and practiced independently the entire time. It wasn’t until I began my own medical practice that I realized his impact with where my career has taken me. Early in my nursing career I would have never imagined I would one day have a practice of my own.
Unfortunately, my siblings and I suffered the loss of both of our parents in the last 8 years, each of them passing away 9 months apart from one another. It was by far the hardest time of my life but I know that they are always with me and continue to inspire me as both a business owner and a nurse even in their absence.
You have created a very space for women to feel beautiful and confident. How does your personal philosophy reflect in your treatment approach and the services you offer?
Lauren Suttell: I begin all my visits with asking my patients what it is they love about themselves. It does not have to be a physical feature, but if they give me a physical feature as an answer, I then ask them what non-physical feature they love about themselves as well. By doing this, it opens the door to establishing a different level of relationship and often bleeds into discussing other areas of their lives that they may be struggling with.
People get so wrapped up in what “appears” to be beautiful, and everyone has a different definition of what they think is beautiful.
Personally, as a preteen/teen I suffered with obesity. I attended a school where I was bullied by fellow classmates as well as teachers (as sad as it is to say), and I remember feeling like I would never be “beautiful.” As one would fear, I did develop an eating disorder at the age of 14 and continued (discretely) for about 10 years afterwards.
For the longest time, I attributed my continual thinning hair to this. However, it was ultimately determined that I have androgenetic alopecia (a genetic predisposition for hair loss). Now, let’s talk about a beauty complex!
For me, my hair had always been a “safety blanket,”and despite being thin, I could always add extensions to make it “seem” as though I had more hair than I really did. I thought I was doing everything as safely as possible with hair extensions by taking periodic breaks here and there however, after having my son the hair loss I suffered on the crown of my head was so drastic I could no longer conceal hair extensions.
This was the most insecure I think I have ever felt even beyond when I was younger and overweight and being bullied.
As I mentioned in a previous response, the people that you meet in life sometimes change it so drastically and for the better, you have no idea how you could ever repay them for the impact they have made. This is how I felt about a dear friend of mine who I had been seeing for hair extensions who suggested I consider other alternative hair options. The idea of wearing a wig was so outrageous to me, however, she gave me the confidence and lit the fire in me to start researching this possibility.
Through much research, I stumbled upon an amazing group of women who I now consider sisters in our struggle with hair loss. I met a beautiful group of women through social media which continued to grow exponentially, until one day, we decided to establish an annual retreat where we come together and meet in real life. We started this in April of 2022, and it continues to grow each year.
It is amazing to see the effect you can have on someone if you allow yourself to be vulnerable to your insecurities. It’s as if you give them inspiration to do the same, and if everyone does this, it creates a pay it forward effect for the next person who may not feel as though they can overcome this insecurity.
I cannot begin to express how much I have grown with confidence just by being vulnerable with my hair loss. So now when I see patients in my office who may make a comment on how great my hair looks that day or open up to me about another insecurity they may be struggling with, I talk to them about my alopecia. They are shocked to even hear that I wear a wig. Many people would say, “if you are so confident, why wear a wig in the first place?”
My answer to them is that because wearing hair makes me feel good about myself, and you should do things in life that make you feel good about yourself. I have not gone out in public with my shaved head just yet, but it is something I am truly working towards. As I say amongst my hair loss community, “vulnerability breeds confidence,” and there’s nothing more beautiful than being able to live beautifully confident in your own skin just as you are and embrace your own individual beauty.
How has becoming a boy mom influenced your perspective on the work you do?
Lauren Suttell: I think the work I do and the approach I take has influenced the kind of mother I want to be. I want to teach my son that even though the world is obsessed with the exterior appearance, the beauty of each of us comes from within and is the most beautiful feature of an individual
Photo by Kristina Bremer Photography | Originally published in January 2024 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine