While it’s true that all celebrities deserve privacy and respect from the public, it’s also true that being famous comes with a unique platform — a platform that allows celebs to speak up and actually be heard and seen by huge groups of people.
Not all celebs choose to use this platform — and that’s totally cool — but others use theirs to bring awareness to serious health issues that might not necessarily get the press they deserve — or might often be subjected to misconceptions and stigma. Whether it’s Lyme disease, endometriosis, lupus or mental health issues, by sharing their experiences and stories, celebrities are helping to make thousands of people feel less alone. Raising awareness can also prompt people to talk to their doctors about nagging pains they hadn’t considered as possible symptoms or generate interest and funding for further medical research.
Whatever their reason for stepping forward, we’re grateful and appreciate the chance to better understand what they (and other members of their communities) are living with. These are a few of the stars we love who are bravely bringing awareness to illnesses from which they suffer to help others. Read on and hopefully you’ll feel like you understand what it’s like to live with a stigmatizing health condition.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2016.