Episode 28 — MS and the Cruelest of Intentions: Selma Blair, Awareness & Visibility

Tune in to Episode 28 of Myelin & Melanin!

Selma Blair and the Instagram post disclosing her MS in October 2018.

MS has been all over the media this week! First, it was the sighting of actress Selma Blair (who disclosed she has MS via Instagram in October 2018) with her fabulous cane on the red carpet at the 2019 Oscars. Then, fast forward to the interview she did with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America a few days later. Her candid, brave and transparent interview has been the talk of social media. And for good reason — it is rare that chronic illness and disability are given any visibility (especially in Hollywood). It was a beautiful moment. The awareness she brought to multiple sclerosis is priceless.

One of our favorite MS bloggers, Ardra Shephard from the blog “Tripping on Air”.

Join us as we share our reflections on Selma Blair’s interview, as well as discuss the concept of disability visibility. We also discuss an article written by one of our favorite MS bloggers — titled “Why Is Selma Blair So Important Right Now”, and how her discussion of mobility aids mirrors our own realities.

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MS, Media & Hysteria

Selma Blair (Photo: Getty Images)

As many of you know, actress Selma Blair revealed, in a (poignant and brave) Instagram post, that she was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After 15 years of thinking she was suffering from a pinched nerve, she was finally diagnosed with MS in August.

Whenever a celebrity is diagnosed with MS, there’s a resurgence of interest in MS in the media. This, for many reasons, can be a bit triggering for those of us who suffer from MS. That’s another story for another blog post.


In any case, amid all of the MS hoopla, I came across an article in Women’s Health titled 15 Early MS Symptoms in Women that Shouldn’t Be Ignored. This is one of the most outrageous articles about MS that I’ve read in a long time. I guarantee that just about any woman, after reading this article, will second guess the myriad of general ass symptoms outlined in this article that she may be experiencing, and think that she has MS.

Being forgetful, clumsy, tired, feeling “weird sensations”, menstrual irregularity — all things that can mean just about anything — are not automatic indicators of MS. Further, the fluffy way that the author discusses and describes optic neuritis is laughable. The author writes, “If you previously had a good eye for color, don’t brush this off, Segil says. ‘It’s called optic neuritis and it happens because of a loss of insulation around the optic nerves in the brain; it’s one of the primary symptoms of multiple sclerosis,’ he explains.” Give me a damn break. Optic neuritis is way more than colors being off. Anyone who has ever experienced optic neuritis can attest to this.

This article is offensive.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s very important for people to be in tune with their bodies. And yes, I know that MS is one of the most elusive diseases to diagnose, but these fear tactics do not serve a useful purpose. If anything, they minimize the seriousness of these symptoms (fatigue, etc.) and the impact that they have on those who do suffer from MS.

At the end of the day, we should be grateful for any MS awareness I suppose. Let’s just be careful that the information that we are disseminating is accurate, avoids hysteria, and honors the very real experiences of those who live with this terrible disease.

My thoughts are with Selma Blair.