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Chronic Illness Community Calls Out 'Saved by the Bell' for Joking About Selena Gomez's Health

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What happened: Members of the chronic illness community and Selena Gomez’s fans criticized the “Saved by the Bell “reboot for making jokes and comments about Gomez’s kidney transplant. Gomez received a kidney transplant in 2017 after facing complications from lupus. The message “RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ” trended on Twitter over the weekend, where people criticized the new show for making light of Gomez’s health struggles.

Gomez has not commented about the jokes made in the “Save by the Bell” reboot. Variety published an apology from Peacock, NBC Universal, and the reboot’s executive producers:

We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.

The Frontlines: Gomez has been open about her struggles with lupus and her kidney transplant in 2017. Gomez also created the Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research to support research focusing on treating complications at the University of Southern California.

  • Kidney damage is one of the most common complications from lupus, and is referred to as lupus nephritis.
  • Five out of 10 adults with lupus will experience kidney damage, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health reports that people with chronic illness, including lupus, have a higher risk of developing depression due to physical symptoms and the toll of being sick.

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A Mighty Voice: While many members of the chronic illness community do not have to deal with our health being the butt of jokes on television, many still deal with unwanted jabs. Contributor Kelsey Gilchriest wrote about how she feels when people make jokes about her invisible illness.

“The words stung, and I winced as he walked away, trying not to let what he said bother me as much as it did. It was a joke, after all, I said to myself as I tried to distract myself with organizing the server cards I had lined up to seat whoever came through the restaurant next.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community: 

#Lupus helps us look at a #newbeginning

Other Things to Know: Lupus complications can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. Here are some stories about how Gomez’s journey with lupus and dealing with kidney complications affected her mental health.

How to Take Action: If you want to support the Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research, you can donate here. 

Image via Wikimedia Commons/gracie otto 

Originally published: November 30, 2020
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