Why Celebrities Aren’t The Best Role Models for Our Health.

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This week the IBD community was outraged when Sam Faiers, ex-towie star and Crohn’s sufferer, declared that her boyfriend Paul had effectively ‘cured her illness ‘Sam, who recently gave birth, made the statement on Instagram after people had decided her boyfriend was, for want of a better phrase, a little bit weird.Leaping to his defence, Sam proclaimed that despite the fact he couldn’t make beans on toast, Paul was the man that has cured her Crohn’s through his detailed research into ‘natural medication’. Right.

 

Outraged, sufferers were quick to correct the former TOWIE star, since IBD (click here to read all my IBD posts), like many diseases that involve the immune system, chronic and, as a result, incurable. Thus, even those who haven’t had problems for decades are reluctant to use the ‘c’ word. Not only that but many felt talk of such natural medication (whatever that is, Faiers didn’t elaborate and quickly edited the contents of her post) also diminish the very real and very strong medications that the majority of sufferers take each day: a cocktail of immunosuppressants, antibiotics, steroids and anti-inflammatories. Was the implication here that we should be chucking these in the bin and searching for this holy grail of natural medication that Paul (a man who was so fatigued by his girlfriend’s labour that he took a nap) has discovered?

 

Perhaps not. Yet is Sam really to blame? After all, she had no choice but to become an unofficial spokesperson for the disease when she diagnosed very publicly during a stint on Celebrity Big Brother several years ago. This thrust Crohn’s disease into the media spotlight and while this did sufferers a great deal of good in terms of awareness, it also came with a double edge sword. While Sam did great things in promoting the disease she has subsequently become an authority whose opinion is readily published. Sam is asked questions on what diet she follows and what medication is on and her experiences are taken as gospel by many. Yet, did she sign up for this? Not really. After all, this is a girl who dated Mark Wright and no one seems to blame her for that. Yet as soon as she shares something about her illness (in an admittedly naive but overall positive statement- sharing her successes) she’s blasted for being a poor representative.

That’s the problem with celebrities; we so badly want their experiences to become our own. We trust them on everything: from what clothes to wear (a celebrity sighting practically guarantees a brand’s products to sell out) to what foods to eat (If Beyonce tells us to eat cayenne pepper we eat cayenne pepper) and even to put on our faces (blood facials anybody?)

 

While trends may often be weird and ridiculous, they can sometimes be dangerous. Take Binky from Made in Chelsea. The star caused a wave of indignation when she instagrammed herself getting an IV drip treatment. As you do.

 

Thanks to the lovey Josie@ www.sickchickchic.com for the screenshot. It seems to have disappeared from Binky’s instagram after the uproar.

This didn’t really shock me too much since IV drips were all the rage when I lived in China (doctors tried to hook me up to one for everything from an insect bite to a cold). But I can understand why others felt it hugely irresponsible and simply unnecessary. Especially since many people who would actually really need this treatment are often denied it on the NHS. It sent a message that when it comes to health, money talks. And that celebrities can just do whatever they want.

But should we be turning to celebrities like Binky for health advice anyway?  It’s admirable that many celebrities speak out about their illnesses (Avril Lavinge shared her struggle with Lyme Disease; Zoella regularly vlogs about anxiety) but in recent weeks many have chosen to keep this hidden (most recently Terry Wogan’s secret battle with cancer). Why? Because they perhaps know that they will be held as a role model patient; with everything about what they say or do scrutinised. Or perhaps because it’s really none of our business.

 

So while Sam Faiers is certainly naive, all she is doing is sharing her own experiences with the disease. Would we lambast a stranger in the street for not knowing the facts about their health or speaking out of turn? Unlikely. We can’t expect people in the public eye to know everything, nor do we need them to- they’re not the doctors here.   If we can forgive Sam for her cquestionable taste in men then we can surely forgive her for wanting to celebrate her victory with Crohn’s disease, whether that turns out to be a temporary or permanent one.

More importantly, let’s focus on our own health journeys (here’s mine): whether that be the path to a healthier diet or a battle with a chronic disease.When it comes down to it, the only person who should really influence our health is ourselves.

 

I’d love to read your opinions on the topic. You can tweet me @jenbalancebelly or pop a comment below.

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16 Comments

  1. February 20, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    Great post! I’m afraid I ignore what the so-called celebs share online as you know they are all getting their treatments for free in return for a social share.I dread my children growing up and am trying to get them to think for themselves rather than trust everything they hear or read.
    Jenny recently posted…The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah JefferiesMy Profile

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      February 21, 2016 / 6:15 pm

      yes it’s a scary place for teenagers!

  2. February 21, 2016 / 10:27 am

    I’m going to be honest with you. I can’t get into the mind frame of someone who jumps on someone else like that. In fact I wrote a post along those lines (called don’t compare your start to someone else’s middle). It unsettles me that people feel they can attack someone because they share a success story. Sure she might not be “cured” but she may have recovered her health to a point where she can live without her illness dominating her life. Whether she has a relapse or not down the line, I say let her enjoy her better health. Perhaps if people had responded in a positive way she would have shared an insight into the resources she read that helped her, which could have helped others.

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      February 21, 2016 / 6:15 pm

      thanks donna- will check your blog out, souns like a great idea for a post.

  3. February 21, 2016 / 2:08 pm

    Hi, I agree with much of what you say, particularly in the case of Sam and her very public diagnosis. I see that she is no longer listed as a CCUK ambassador.

    I think it is a bit harsh to judge her for her choices of relationship though!

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      February 21, 2016 / 6:14 pm

      sorry, it was just a bit of sarcasm (but i’m not a big fan of her boyf if i’m honest)

  4. Healthyglobetrotting
    February 21, 2016 / 6:16 pm

    probably the best way to be laura! i think it’s a mix of the media and the celebs

  5. Alex
    February 23, 2016 / 12:51 pm

    Crohn’s disease has not been considered an autoimmune disease for at least a decade.

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      February 23, 2016 / 8:06 pm

      that’s not actually the case in terms of the medical community but of course there are other theories about MAP bacteria, gut microbiome etc.

  6. Alex
    February 25, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    Please do your research. If you don’t want to read scientific papers, then perhaps a basic read of NHS and NICE guidelines. You will not find the term autoimmune disease. However, if you read about actual autoimmune disease on the NHS such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthropod for example, you will see the word “autoimmune disease” used. This thinking about crohns is long out of date.

  7. Alex
    February 25, 2016 / 7:49 pm

    *rheumatoid arthritis

  8. Alex
    February 25, 2016 / 7:55 pm

    Someone mentioned about this in your news article and wrote about it far better than I can:

    Crohn’s was classified as an autoimmune disease in past simply due to the lack of understanding as to its nature. Whilst it is immune related, we now better understand that the immune system is not being triggered by the body itself, but very much intrisincly linked to the bio-feedback between organism, microbial & enviornment… therefore can no longer be considered as an autoimmune disease.

    That we still see such inaccurate tags such “autoimmune disease” is somewhat concerning considering how freely information is accessable within todays world…

    We can perhaps consider that in the most part, most ailments tagged as “disease” is really a matter in missuse of lanquage, and were assigned by the medical industry to describe any disorder relating to the human body.. this is not a true refelction of an actual disease….

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      February 25, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      I am not a doctor, I just blog about IBD. I do understand the complexities of the causes and that CCUK labelling it as ‘an abnormal reaction of the immune system’ is very similar to the phrase ‘autoimmune’. My readers do not necessarily have this level of research so I am happy to use ‘autoimmune’ in its place. Please do not patronise and tell me to do some research. I run a very positive IBD blog, work extremely hard to support and encourage others- with very little monetary reward. I do it because I love it and don’t need to be put down. There are plenty of scientific blogs out there if you wish to read those instead. Always appreciate comments and the info is interesting but you’ve made your point now and there’s no need to be rude.

  9. Alex
    March 5, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    I don’t see how you providing misinformation about crohns being an autoimmune disease is any more helpful than Sam Faiers using the term “cure” to describe her Crohn’s disease following the use of natural remedies. Both incorrect. Both unhelpful. What is annoying is that you have hypocritically criticised Sam for her detrimental misinformation in a national news artical.

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      March 5, 2016 / 6:20 pm

      I am not sure why you keep commenting but I have changed the wording to ‘diseases involving the immune system’. You are correct that the NHS says it is a reaction involving the immune system but doesn’t use the exact phrase autoimmune disease; although other sites too. I am not sure it’s that helpful to argue the cause and instead discuss managing it- which is what I aim to do. However, I am always happy to take feedback, hence the tweak. You have the right to your opinion but can you please stop commenting now as I find your tone quite rude and will have to block you if it continues. Thank you.

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