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Celebrity Help

Celebrity Help

While perusing the internet one day (I’m a millennial and that’s all I do) I came across a variety of articles about some actors disclosing they had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Now, usually I don’t really care about celebrity lives but I’ve been noticing a trend of celebrities and influencers disclosing their medical history.

A morbid fascination with celebrity life has always been part of pop culture but the one thing many do not talk about is their health. Seriously, when was the last time you heard of anything more serious than a cold? Or, if hospitalization was in order nothing more than dehydration or a bad flu? My favorite example is Lucille Ball. It is rumored that she had JRA but to this day no one can really confirm it.

Mum’s the word when it comes to health and it’s no surprise when we expect our idols to be perfect. So, why the sudden change, why are our favorite influencers suddenly disclosing their health issues?

Social media: Connecting people we otherwise wouldn’t be connected to

Social media is an interesting phenomenon. It has made it possible to feel close to people we used to think were totally on another level. We can comment on their feeds, watch their stories and see them engage with their friends, making them one of us. Social media can make or break someone’s reputation and when used right can increase publicity. It’s a game that anyone in the public eye needs to win.

There’s always a reason for every post. Every curated flat, every perfect living room, and every personal video has an ulterior motive. It’s always money and always exposure.

The biggest common denominator between these celebrities is that no one is talking about them anymore.

Social media is hard. Don’t post for a couple of days and your visibility decreases exponentially. I wish I were exaggerating but unfortunately, I am not. It’s that [drastic].

Are these people just looking to get back into it after a long absence and drum up renewed interest? Are they trying to expand their audience? Do they just want us to feel sorry for them?

Only they and their publicity teams know and honestly, I don’t care about their reasons.

A wrong picture of chronic illness?

I am just a bit annoyed about the picture they are painting about autoimmunity and chronic illnesses.

They’re explaining a long absence with a healthy photo and a short caption naming an “obscure” disease that most people do not recognize. Often, they just see arthritis and think of osteoarthritis which we all know is totally different.

They don’t explain what the illness is, or how it affects everyday life. Chronic illnesses are just that – “chronic” and we have to deal with every second of every day for the rest of our lives. Influencers play them off as a one or two-time event and as simple as the flu. “I had pain, I had a disability but look, I’m good now”.

But publicity leads to awareness

I’m, of course, not saying that some celebrities are not passionate about Rheumatoid Disease. Some of them really want to spread awareness of the disease. Even though I think social media taints genuine emotion (yeah, I know I’m a hypocrite) I also think any publicity is good publicity.

Even if these people are not trying to expand their audience just by using the words “Rheumatoid Arthritis – or, Disease” many will look it up in interest. Either way, they are spreading awareness and hopefully, knowledge. That’s what we Spoonies want most in life, right? For people to understand just a little more what we’re going through on the daily.

What do you think of celebrities disclosing their medical information? Do you care? Let me know in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jo J
    9 months ago

    Honestly, when I hear of a celebrity with a serious, chronic illness I try to feel the same compassion for them as I would for the people who post here. Having a career as an actor, singer, athlete, etc. does not prepare them any more for a chronic illness then “regular people with regular jobs.” They, like us, should get to choose how much of their medical information is shared and where/if they put their energy into activism. Actually, they may not have as much control over what is publicly disclosed as I do.

    I was touched by Lady Gaga’s honesty about her chronic pain in her documentary. I’ve since read conflicting reports about whether she has Fibromyalgia or RA. It doesn’t matter to me her specific diagnosis. I hope for appropriate diagnosis and treatment for her and am awestruck when I see her perform. Then I find myself concerned with how taxing it must be on her body.

    I totally agree with the comments about images in medication advertisements! When I was first diagnosed I’d get a little rush seeing the ads and thinking “How soon will that be me?” Having started my 3rd biological, I now find I resent these ads at times. Or, if RA has slipped my mind for a moment, I resent the reminder. I also see the ads as a reminder of just how profitable these meds are. And how expensive. Maybe cut a few ads and save patients a few bucks???!

  • tckrd
    10 months ago

    It’s fine if they are actually doing this for awareness. What bothers me is when their awareness getting hurts me. In other words people start asking why these famous people who have the same disease as me can get all better and I cant. And then ask are you really still in that much pain.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi tckrd. Know what you mean about public faces often giving an impression that RA just isn’t that bad. Sometimes the drug companies and medical community also contribute to this perception. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), often gets annoyed that the commercials for biologics only show really healthy people doing things like building houses. Even a leading arthritis magazine has the same issue with their cover photos. She wrote about the lack of the real faces of RA here: Best, Richard ( Team)

  • Elizabeth Riggs
    10 months ago

    In the businesses of movies, stage, and music, admitting to a chronic disease can put you on a do-not-hire list. It takes incredible bravery to admit to a disease or condition that can cause interruption of an expensive production. Only those who already have a good record of “making it” through productions and not “costing” the company extra money might feel able to admit to a chronic disease, much less support awareness. RD really needs one or more live celebrities that will work toward increased awareness. We know a few celebrities (mostly dead, now) who have (or had) RD: Lucille Ball, Rosalyn Russell, James Coburn, and Kathleen Turner. There probably are more.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    10 months ago

    I am fine with the disclosure, so long as it is a disclosure to further understanding. Four years ago a Miss America contestant wore an insulin pump during the swim suit competition. she clipped her pump on the back of her suit and a camera pan picked it up. The diabetes community were instant fans.

    The contestant did not win and she has gone on to donate hundreds of hours to diabetes charities around the world. That is the kind of disclosure that is wonderful.

    Two years ago another contestant wore a pump and she carried it in her hand most of the competition and spoke of it while being interviewed. I have not heard a thing about her since.

    It seems like deliberate or not one was genuine and one was not so much.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    10 months ago

    I remember those times!! I loved that first contestant because she continued to support charities and was genuinely trying to raise awareness.

    You bring up a good point, a lot of the people who disclose their medical history do it as a one-off and don’t follow through with their speech!

    Thanks Rick!

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