What I Wish Kim Kardashian Knew Before Tweeting 'The Flu Can Be an Amazing Diet'
It is the first night out in what seems like a lifetime. Staring in the mirror, my hands pull at the clothes on my frame. I silently pray that my friends do not point out the weight loss… again. The carefully planned outfit and extensive makeup are meant to hide my feeding tube and the dark circles under my eyes. These desperate attempts just barely conceal how sick I really feel, though. Chronic illness is less than glamorous. I throw on my blue medical mask before heading out the door. It is safety first! After all, the public is currently a cesspool of germs this flu season.
Most do not take such caution to avoid getting sick. Some even welcome it, like Kim Kardashian tweeting, “The flu can be an amazing diet. So happy it came in time for the Met lol #6lbsdown” (she has since deleted the tweet). While Kim’s tweet was probably not intended with malice, it significantly diminishes the seriousness of illness. And it especially undermines the daily struggles of those living with chronic, incurable illnesses.
I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). It affects the production of the connective tissue called collagen that comprises 80 percent of the body. It is a chronic illness. There is no cure. In simpler terms, it lasts forever. EDS is not the only chronic illness. There are many diagnoses that are considered chronic. Our symptoms are daily and persistent. We may be achy, fatigued, and puking is definitely not out of the norm. Basically, many of us feel as if we have the flu 24/7. So, what happens when we actually have the flu, too?!
The average abled-bodied person may perceive a five-day bout of the flu as miniscule. But for those with chronic illness, it is not just a week of being under the weather. People with chronic illness can die from the flu. An already compromised immune system goes berserk.
Even if the consequences are not fatal, the compounded misery is severe — organ failure, infection, and more.
Kim Kardashian’s statement flaunts illness. It downplays symptoms as if they do not interfere with daily life. The nonchalant manner of the tweet implies that illness is no big deal. She does not take into consideration the people with chronic illness who already exist in a state of never ending flu-like symptoms.
Her statement also glamorizes illness. Losing weight is not always good under the circumstances of illness. The opposite thinking contributes to the stigma that being sick is appealing, that it leads to the thin body frame idolized by society. The mindset is harmful to those with chronic illnesses that cause drastic weight loss. The pounds lost quickly add up to equal not only a number you do not wish to repeat, but the surreal moment of the medical team expressing their fear that you will go to bed one night and not wake up in the morning. The matter is not to be taken lightly.
Thankfully, Kim Kardashian’s thoughtless tweet might be a blessing in disguise. Chronic illness is a hardship I would not want Kim Kardashian, or any another human being, to endure. Her ignorance on the subject has provided an ideal platform for awareness opportunities. However, I hope she has a new perspective the next time she succumbs to the cootie bugs — acknowledging that “#6lbsdown” from the flu can easily turn into a six-week hospital admission for someone with a chronic illness.
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Photo by David Shankbone via Flickr