Selena Gomez spoke out against those who body-shamed her weight fluctuations, which may be relatable for anyone who has experienced physical changes in their appearance as a result of chronic illness.
On Monday, Gomez was featured in an episode of the video podcast, “Giving Back Generation,” where she shared about living with lupus, kidney issues and the body-shaming she experiences from unkind observers on social media.
“I have lupus and deal with kidney issues and high blood pressure, so I deal with a lot of health issues,” Gomez told podcast host Raquelle Stevens. “For me, that’s when I really started noticing more of the body image stuff.”
Gomez added that one of the chief reasons for physical changes is the result of her medication. The corticosteroid prednisone, for example, is often prescribed to suppress immune system activity and reduce inflammation. Prednisone can greatly reduce the symptoms of autoimmune conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. But it comes with major side effects, including facial swelling and weight gain.
“It’s the medication I have to take for the rest of my life — it depends on even the month, to be honest,” she said. “So for me, I really noticed when people started attacking me for that. And in reality, that’s just my truth. I fluctuate. It depends what’s happening in my life.”
However, oftentimes people don’t understand that physical changes to your body like weight gain are completely out of your control. Gomez described the body-shaming comments she receives on social media really took a toll on her mental health.
“That got to me big time. That really messed me up for a bit,” Gomez said. “I don’t care to expose myself to everyone and hear what they have to say about it.”
Gomez isn’t the only celebrity speaking up about the weight shaming they experienced as a result of how their body changed due to chronic illness. Actress Jameela Jamil has spoken out on Twitter against shaming people who have gained weight as a result of their health condition or treatments.
In 2017, actress Sarah Hyland, who received a kidney transplant in 2012, addressed harsh comments about changes to her physical appearance because she was put on bed rest for her health and taking the medication prednisone.
“I know that my face is swollen from medication that is saving my life,” Hyland wrote on Twitter. “My circumstances have put me in a place where I’m not in control of what my body looks like.”
If you’re struggling with weight fluctuations as a result of your chronic illness or medications, know you’re not alone. As Mighty contributor Ama Wei wrote in their article, “How Body Shaming Harms Women With Chronic Illnesses“:
Remember: You are not defined by your weight, your shape, your size or how much you exercise and eat. You deserve quality healthcare, respect, dignity and to have your symptoms taken seriously. You don’t have to accept body or weight shaming as part of your medical treatment. Respect shouldn’t be linked to our weight, and this is a dangerous standard that has become commonplace in the medical community. I wish someone had told me these facts earlier, but I hope that as you read these words, you feel supported and safe in our disability community.