Advocacy / Arthritis Ashley / Awareness / book / chronic illness / Entertainment / instagram / pain / RA awareness

When Celebrities Do Good: Thank You, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Robin Roberts!

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about celebrities who use their fame for good.

Sure, there are tons of recent examples: Beyonce is aiming to start a vegan revolution, Paula Abdul has worked tirelessly for pain causes and lupus organizations, the Kardashian and Jenner families have opened the eyes of many to transgender issues, and actress Megan Park has announced that she’ll be a spokeswoman of sorts for young folks with rheumatoid arthritis. Many actors, actresses, and singers stand up for animal rights, for race relations, and for issues plaguing the LGBTQ community. Monica Lewinsky and countless others have stood for Anti-Bullying causes, Oprah has spoken out about basically everything and has been a godsend to many, and just recently everyone from Justin Timberlake to Amy Poehler participated in Red Nose Day. Today I wish to focus on 3 empowering and inspiring women for my blog, because they’ve touched me in different ways.

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To Taylor Swift: I was at your 1989 Tour concert in Pittsburgh this past weekend. It was a tough day for me because of all the standing and walking — you see, I have bad knees, bad feet, and a bad back due to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, osteoarthritis, mixed connective tissue disease, and more. However, it was such a special, fun, and memorable day for my mom and me. We enjoyed your show immensely — I’ve been to over 100 concerts and it easily was tied for my top favorite that I’ve seen. I have to say, what endeared me most throughout the theatrical performances and amazing displays of talent was that you took the time to speak to your audience. I’m paraphrasing here, but it brought tears to my eyes when you told us all to remember “we are not others’ opinions of us,” and “we are not damaged goods,” and “just because you haven’t gotten to where you want to be yet, doesn’t mean you won’t get there.” Taylor, it was like you read my journal. Lately, because of my health problems, I have felt like I am never going to reach my dreams or achieve all of my goals. I wonder how much more successful I would be if I were healthy, and I feel like damaged goods and a burden to my husband. I wonder frequently what the outside world thinks of me.

These are all issues that I talk about in my funny health memoir, Sick Idiot, but more importantly, they are issues that I and millions of others who live with health problems struggle with daily. What you said could touch upon a wide range of topics from body image issues, to bullying, to life with illness, broken hearts, and more. And as a 31-year-old who has experienced ALL of that, I applaud you, and I thank you. I cannot imagine how many young girls who you touched with your words and I am grateful for a world in which young women can grow up looking up to someone as incredible as you. I’m older than you, and even I look up to you. Thank you for a great show and for being a positive influence in a sometime-dreary world. I love to see you visiting patients in children’s hospitals and I’m sure that kids with health problems (like juvenile arthritis!) and their parents feel the same way. Your philanthropic work and outreach is a part of why I decided to dedicate part of my book sales to charity. Thanks for being you and putting a smile on the face of many.

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To Lady Gaga: I have read that you lost your aunt to lupus and that you tested borderline positive yourself. For that, I am sorry. I also know that you underwent a hip surgery, and saw recently on Instagram that you still struggle with bone inflammation. Girl, I can relate! I have had lupus and inflammatory issues for a long time now. I was first diagnosed with these types of problems as a child, around the age of 10 years old. Now 31, there are many stars who inspire me when I’m having a tough time – and you are one of them! Awhile back, I wrote an “open letter” to you, and in my book Sick Idiot, I talk about you a few times. Your song “Born This Way” helped me through recovery from brain surgery in 2011, and it also made me realize that I was born this way (with health conditions) for a reason. I believe that reason is to help and inspire others like myself through my writing and social media work.

I admire that you always take the time to stand up for those who may have trouble standing up for themselves, and appreciate the lyrics in that song specifically mentioning life’s disabilities leaving you outcast, bullied, or teased. I know that my sometimes-invisible disability left me feeling outcast and sometimes-bullied as a teenager. I still feel that way, at times, as an adult. I would love to somehow send you a copy of my book to read, since I mention you in it quite a few times, and because of the work you do for lupus causes. In fact, some of it may make you laugh — I’m sure of it! (I would not know how to get a copy to you, though.) By the way, thanks for sharing your doggies on Instagram all the time, too — they make me smile when I’m having a tough day, just like my “fur-babies” do! You are truly an inspiration and I thank you for the awareness you bring to SO MANY important causes. As a health coach, I’m happy to see you talking about organic foods lately, too! AND: Congrats on your engagement.

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To Robin Roberts: Robin, one of your GMA camera men, Eddie, gave you a copy of my book, Sick Idiot to read, along with a card and a photo. The reason I sent it to you is because I read your book during one of my own chemo infusions for my autoimmune conditions! Although your health issues were far more serious, I could relate so intently to so much of what you said, and what you felt. I mostly appreciated your positive attitude in the midst of such difficulty and adversity. I then saw you at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for women last year, in 2014. You wouldn’t have known it, I’m sure, but I was also a speaker at the event, and led a roundtable discussion on using social media for good. I enjoyed your keynote speech and found it to be very inspiring and encouraging. I like the idea that “everybody’s got something!” and I share that message myself, frequently. Although I don’t know you, of course, I feel a connection to you and think that you are a beautiful soul, just like Taylor and Gaga.  Thank you for your strength, courage, and for sharing your faith with all of us.

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Oprah is another woman who has inspired me, and who I talk about in my book. There are so many celebrities out there who I admire, but there are some who just strike me as genuinely special people with amazing spirits and superstar souls. These are just some examples, and I hope that, by some miracle, they read this blog post and understand what they mean to so many of us who are touched by their words and actions all the time.

This goes for everyone, though — even we “mere mortals” without fame and fortune: you never know who your story is inspiring, or who your words are reaching at the right time, on the right day. So continue to live your life as best you can, and you never know — you could be inspiring somebody, too, or brightening someone’s day, just by being you!

Be well! 🙂

With love,

Ashley

PS: Readers, friends, family, and fans: please help me reach my dream of these lovely women seeing this post by sharing it on social media and tagging them! Thanks 🙂

One thought on “When Celebrities Do Good: Thank You, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Robin Roberts!

  1. Pingback: No, Lady Gaga Did NOT Confirm That She Has Rheumatoid Arthritis | Arthritis Ashley

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