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.