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10 Badass Responses Celebrities Have for People Who Criticized Their Illness

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Last month, Lady Gaga generated fist pumps from fibromyalgia fighters everywhere when she clapped back at people who question her illness: “To anyone that doesn’t believe in fibromyalgia: I dare you to spend five minutes in my body on a day when I’m in pain, and then try and say it again,” she said. For so many others with fibromyalgia, who have heard the exact same doubts cast on their illness, it was validating to hear someone who is so well-known and loved use her celebrity status to fight back against the same judgments they face.

We wanted to highlight other celebrities who have used their platform to fight back against doubt, judgment and criticism towards their illness or the way they live with it. It’s true that celebrities don’t always experience illness in the same way non-celebrities do. But when they speak out and defend themselves against, for example, criticisms about their bodies, or accusations that they “don’t look sick,” people who wouldn’t ordinarily care about chronic illness issues may sit up and take notice. Plus, you may get some ideas for badass ways you can respond if someone ever makes a similar judgment about you! Here are 10 celebrities who shut down criticism in pretty badass ways.

1. Sarah Hyland

sarah hyland
Photo via Sarah Hyland Facebook

In an essay shared on Twitter last year, Hyland responded to comments she’s received about her body in response to her recent Instagram posts as well as her appearance on the ABC television remake of “Dirty Dancing.” The actress has kidney dysplasia and underwent a kidney transplant in 2012, and in her response she fired back at people who questioned how her appearance had changed:

“I don’t mind when you say that I look pregnant. Or fat. Because I know that my face is swollen from medication that is saving my life. For those on prednisone I know what you’re going through and I commend you sticking it out as I have.”

2. Gigi Hadid

gigi hadid
Photo by Rony Alwin via Gigi Hadid Facebook

Hadid revealed in December 2016 that she has Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of the thyroid. She spoke out against body-shamers with a series of tweets explaining that after she was diagnosed, medication and a “holistic medical trial” changed her body:

“I may be ‘too skinny’ for u, honestly this skinny isn’t what I want to be, but I feel healthier internally and am still learning and growing with my body everyday, as everyone is. I will not further explain the way my body looks, just as anyone with a body type that doesn’t suit ur ‘beauty’ expectation, shouldn’t have to.”

3. Dan Reynolds

dan reynolds
Photo via Imagine Dragons Facebook

Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds tweeted a message earlier this year explaining that he has ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis, and plans to share the “way of life” that has led to him being “relatively pain free.” He also included a response to those who have been critical of his efforts to keep healthy:

“To those writers who have bullied and body shamed me throughout the years because I am an ‘artist’ and am supposed to fit some image you have in mind of the typical ‘rockstar’ — shame on you. I honestly hope you never have to deal with chronic pain — though it would certainly make you think twice before judging another’s way of life, especially when you have no idea of the details of their struggle.”

4. Selena Gomez

selena gomez
Photo via Selena Gomez Facebook

When Selena Gomez took a break from the public eye and went to rehab to deal with her lupus and also mental health issues, many speculated that she was actually dealing with an addiction. In an interview with Billboard in 2015, Gomez revealed what she wished people spreading rumors about her knew:

“I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re a**holes.’”

5. Lady Gaga

lady gaga
Photo via Lady Gaga Facebook

Since announcing that she has fibromyalgia in September, Lady Gaga has faced doubt and criticism of her pain, particularly when it comes to her performing. After postponing her European tour last year (she eventually canceled it), Gaga wrote a lengthy Twitter post responding to those who have questioned her, explaining that she’s been “searching for years” to get to the bottom of “complicated and difficult to explain” physical and mental health struggles, and plans to tell her story in more depth and “take this on strongly” so she can raise awareness and expand research for others who suffer as she does:

“I use the word ‘suffer’ not for pity, or attention, and have been disappointed to see people online suggest that I’m being dramatic, making this up, or playing the victim to get out of touring. If you knew me, you would know this couldn’t be further from the truth.”

6. Jamie-Lynn Sigler

jamie lynn sigler
Photo via Jamie-Lynn Sigler Facebook

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 20 years old, told Yahoo last year that she was hesitant to use walking sticks during a trip to Israel partly because she knows she doesn’t “look sick.” But she eventually decided to use them after realizing her needs had to come first:

“I could feel people looking at me and thinking I don’t look like somebody that needs these. But I do, so it made me think a lot about erasing that stigma for people, and not being ashamed.”

7. Halsey

Photo via Halsey Facebook

Singer Halsey has been open about her journey with endometriosis, which began as she was starting her music career. At first she felt like she had to hide her symptoms, especially because she was surrounded by men much of the time, but then she decided to be more open about her condition and now often speaks out to encourage women to do what’s right for their bodies, including this response she gave at the Endometriosis Foundation of America Blossom Ball earlier this year:

“There were times when I was bleeding through my clothes or I was sick and it got to the point where I had to look at everyone around me and be like, ‘You know what? That is something that is a reality for me and you need to suck it up and deal. I’m not going to let you make me ashamed of this.’”

8. Padma Lakshmi

padma lakshmi

Photo via Padma Lakshmi Facebook

The “Top Chef” host is also the cofounder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America and has spoken often about her experience with endometriosis. In a speech at Variety’s Power of Women event earlier this year, Lakshmi described the frustrating lack of awareness around the seriousness of endometriosis and how she felt like she was being being penalized because she has a uterus:

“If I was a man and couldn’t get it up there would be many drugs, many treatments, pumps even… And it would be covered by insurance. But for the 200 million women with endometriosis, still nothing. Nothing! Except a pill, when we can get it. Surgery, most insurance doesn’t pay for it unless you end up in the ER. And oh yeah, a drug that induces false menopause.”

9. Toni Braxton

toni braxton
Photo via Toni Braxton Facebook

Due to her lupus, Toni Braxton has had to take medications that altered her face, leading some fans to speculate that she had plastic surgery. After noticing a fan comment on one of her pictures that “it looks like she did something under her eyes, around her cheeks… a bit of Botox maybe?” Braxton clapped back:

“Awww no darlin, I take medicine for something called lupus. But I can refer you to someone if you’re interested in doing a bit under your eyes, around your cheeks and maybe your nose.”

10. Michael J. Fox

michael j fox
Photo via The Michael J. Fox Show Facebook

After Rush Limbaugh questioned whether Michael J. Fox had exaggerated his Parkinson’s disease symptoms in a TV political ad, Fox responded in an interview with George Stephanopoulos. He explained that this discussion of whether or not sick people have the right to display their symptoms in public is hurtful, and that asking sick people to “go away” is a response that comes from fear. He also said:

“Those people that are being pitied or being asked to suffer in silence don’t want to suffer, don’t see themselves as pitiable, don’t see themselves as victims – see themselves as citizens, participants in the process, and people with aspirations and hopes and dreams for the future. They are way more positive as a whole than what I’ve seen from the community that opposes them.”

Originally published: July 3, 2018
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