12 Celebrities With Chronic and Mental Illnesses Featured in People's 2019 Beauties of the Year List
On Wednesday, People magazine unveiled its list of 2019 Beauties of the Year as the cornerstone of its annual The Beautiful Issue to celebrate “gorgeous-inside-and-out celebrities.”
Like TIME 100’s Most Influential People list, People rounds up some of the most influential celebrities from the past year to highlight their contributions of “strength, humanity and artistry.” People is careful to explain it isn’t a beauty contest — the magazine wants to highlight strong people who are making a difference. There are more than 25 women on this year’s list, including Jennifer Garner on the cover.
People doesn’t specifically call out the celebrities on this list who live with a chronic illness, mental health condition or disability. But for many of the featured names, arguably their honesty about their health to raise awareness and dismantle stigma is a strength. It makes an impact, as Mighty contributor Karen Habashi shared in her article, “Why I’m Thankful to Selma Blair for Sharing Her Chronic Illness Journey.” Habashi said:
Selma Blair showed me I’m not alone in this struggle. Even though she was struggling to speak, her voice had so much strength in it. It takes a very strong person to speak openly about their weakness, but it’s a whole new level to talk about it openly during your worst moments, during your flare up, during your pain and still do so with so much poise and grace. I thank her on behalf of so many women and so many mothers struggling to be heard, struggling to get out of bed, struggling to accept their new diagnosis. Thank you for being strong. Thank you for being real.
Here are the 12 celebrities living with chronic conditions, mental illnesses and disabilities featured on People’s 2019 Beauties of the Year list:
1. Jennifer Aniston
You may know her as Rachel from the popular TV show “Friends,” but Jennifer Aniston has starred in many film and TV shows. She’s also been open about seeing a therapist for many years to prioritize her mental health. What you might not know is the actress struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia until her early 20s. She told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview:
The only reason I knew [that I had it] was because I went to get a prescription for glasses. I had to wear these Buddy Holly glasses. One had a blue lens and one had a red lens. And I had to read a paragraph, and they gave me a quiz, gave me 10 questions based on what I’d just read, and I think I got three right. Then they put a computer on my eyes, showing where my eyes went when I read. My eyes would jump four words and go back two words. … I thought I wasn’t smart. I just couldn’t retain anything. Now I had this great discovery.
2. Selma Blair
Selma Blair, who starred in films like “Legally Blonde” and “Cruel Intentions,” revealed she had multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2018. Since then she’s stepped out at Vanity Fair’s Oscars party with her cane, shared a hilarious make-up “tutorial” and committed to being open about living with MS. During an interview with Robin Roberts in February, Blair said she was nervous to reveal she was experiencing an MS flare that affected her speech. But she wanted to raise awareness and empower others living with chronic illness and disabilities.
“Life is hard, and living with a chronic illness is hard,” Blair told People in her Beauties list feature. “There are things I can’t do at the moment, but things like all these [facial] lines are a luxury because it means I’m still alive and enjoying it.”
3. Camila Cabello
In an interview with E! News, “Havana” singer Camila Cabello shared that she lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
“If I get really stressed thinking about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was and when I found out, and [learned] how to step back from it… I feel so much more in control of it now. To the point where I’m just like, ‘Aha! OK, this is just my OCD.’”
4. Glenn Close
Best-known for her role in “Fatal Attraction,” Glenn Close played Alex Forrest, the “other woman” who has an affair with Dan Gallagher (played by Michael Douglas). In the film, Alex becomes increasingly obsessed with Dan, leading to obsessive and violent behavior. Some believe Alex has borderline personality disorder (BPD), though many who live with BPD resent the stigmatizing association.
Close herself has acknowledged the role was stigmatizing to people who live with mental illness. In an interview with CBS in 2013, the actress said, “I was in ‘Fatal Attraction’ and that played into the stigma. [Now], I would have a different outlook on that character.”
The actress has since spoken openly about living with depression, and co-founded the mental health nonprofit, Bring Change to Mind in 2010 after her sister, Jessie Close, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and her nephew, Calen Pick, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
5. Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay, best-known for her role as detective Olivia Benson on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” contracted gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy.
According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes is a condition where pregnant women who have never had diabetes before experience a high level of blood glucose during pregnancy.
Due to her long days of filming, Hargitay turned to food for comfort, People Magazine reported.
“I was overwhelmed by my lack of energy. All I could do to survive was to eat,” she said.
Through her role on “Law & Order: SVU,” Hargitay became intimately familiar with the shame, judgment and guilt survivors of violence face every day. In 2004, she founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization devoted to changing the conversation around sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
6. Regina King
After winning an Oscar for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” it seems only fitting actress Regina King would be featured in People’s Beauties of the Year list and TIME 100’s list of most influential people. King lives with hypertension and high cholesterol, risk factors for heart disease that run in her family. (Her older sister, Lavelle, died of a heart attack.) Raising awareness about heart disease, especially among women of color, has become one of her major causes.
“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S.,” King told Everyday Health in an interview. “African-American women develop high blood pressure earlier in life and have higher average blood pressure than Caucasian women. Nearly half of all black women have a total cholesterol that’s too high. Women need to know this information so they can begin to take action and lower their chances of heart disease.”
7. Brie Larson
Brie Larson, who stars in Marvel’s recent superhero film “Captain Marvel,” has lived with social anxiety since childhood.
“You could put me on a stage in front of 100 people and I could do a tap dance, but one-on-one was really difficult for me,” she told BuzzFeed News in 2015. “And it took me most of my life to learn how to work with that anxiety, to embrace and be comfortable with it.”
8. Sandra Lee
Celebrity chef Sandra Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She has since turned her journey to recovery into an HBO documentary, “RX: Early Detection — A Cancer Journey with Sandra Lee.” It candidly shows the difficult journey of living with cancer, including her double mastectomy surgery. While Lee said in an interview she was at first “hesitant” to let people into this intimate part of her life, she hoped it would help others who receive a cancer diagnosis.
“No doctor can tell you everything you need to know,” Lee told People. “The biggest thing I can do is really show people what it looks like to go through this so they walk in with open eyes — which I did not have.”
9. Jennifer Lopez
Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez struggled with depression during her highly-publicized divorce from Mark Anthony in 2011. The pair were married for seven years.
“It was so hard to get out of bed… I was going through one of the hardest moments of my life with my separation and with the kids and everything,” she told Page Six.
After the divorce, she opened up about how her experience with abusive relationships affected her mental health.
“I’ve never gotten a black eye or busted lip, but I have been in relationships where I felt abused one way or another: mentally, emotionally, verbally,” she told E! News. “I know what it feels like for your soul to be diminished by the way your loved one is treating you.”
10. Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves is fresh off a big Grammy win for “Golden Hour” and making waves in the music world with her relatable brand of country twang. She’s also been open about living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). According to the PCOS Awareness Association, more than 10 million people worldwide live with the hormonal condition, which can cause weight gain, fatigue, mood changes, period issues and chronic pain. Her honesty online started an important conversation with others living with PCOS.
“Going through some not-so-fun endocrine issues. Do any of you ladies out there struggle with PCOS? Tips welcome. #ThisSucks” Musgraves tweeted in 2017. “This should be fun to deal with on tour. Woo.”
11. Sandra Oh
Fresh off her inclusion in TIME’s most influential people list, People has tapped Sandra Oh for its list as well. The actress, who is best known for her role as Dr. Christina Yang on the hit TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” and now “Killing Eve,” has been open about living with several autoimmune conditions. She explained in an interview with The New Potato that her eczema, asthma and allergies would flare around her face during stressful periods until she discovered acupuncture.
“I was always suffering over my skin; it made me feel ugly and insecure,” Oh said. “Then I met my acupuncturist and she changed my life. This was not an overnight thing. I saw her regularly — sometimes twice a week — for two years.”
12. Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki, a Danish tennis star who has been smashing the competition, opened up during a press conference in 2018 about living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The autoimmune condition can cause symptoms like joint stiffness, swelling and pain. Wozniacki said at first she thought she could power through the pain, especially after doctors tried to tell her she was fine. She kept advocating for herself, however, and eventually received a diagnosis.
“It’s obviously not ideal for anybody, and I think when you’re a professional athlete, it’s also not even more ideal,” Wozniacki said. “But at the end of the day you find a plan, you figure out what to do … and you just kind of move on from it and work through it and figure out how to deal with it and live with it, and that’s that.”
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