“I wanted to keep you posted on what was going on.“On June 10, Justin Bieber posted a video on his Instagram account, viewed some 50 million times, in which he explains that he suffers from Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which paralyzes half of his face. “Announced just days after several Bieber concerts were canceled, reports The Washington Post, the news sparked sympathy for the 28-year-old singer, who was touring for his fifth and sixth studio albums, Changes (2020) and Justice (2021).”
In another articlethe daily specifies that Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare neurological disease of viral origin, of which, according to figures from the British NGO Facial Palsy UK, “About 70% of people who receive antiviral drugs make a full recovery within three days of the onset of symptoms.” More serious forms can lead to treatments extending over several weeks, and “more severe nerve damage results in longer recovery time and lower chance of a full recovery”.
In her video, the Canadian pop star is confident: “Everything will return to normal. It’s just a matter of time ! But we don’t know how long it will take.”
Justin Bieber is not the first to make the choice to open up to his fans about health problems. The American newspaper cites the examples of actress Selma Blair, who recounted her relationship to multiple sclerosis in her recent Memoirs, of singer Halsey, who posted a video on her Instagram account “about her health issues after giving birth and her endometriosis”or even Hailey Bieber, the wife of the musician, who, last March, reassured about his health after an admission to the emergency room for a blood clot. “These revelations come in a context where public figures can communicate more directly with their fans through the messages posted on social networks, with their live stream and their intimate stories.”
And in the eyes of Washington Post, the evolution is positive. The example given makes it possible to attract the attention of the public and to inform about more or less known diseases. Even to help with prevention, like Angelina Jolie, who had testified to her mother’s fight against breast cancer and her own choice of mastectomy. Finally, “Talking frankly about a disease can also be an effective way of raising people’s awareness of this pathology. […] Thus, Selena Gomez has helped raise nearly half a million dollars for research into lupus, which she herself suffers from.
Finally, this choice of the transparency of the stars can help destigmatize certain diseases. So argues Chris Smit, co-founder of DisArt, “a production company focused on the culture of disability”. According to him, this speaking out can raise awareness that “we must not pretend that disability does not exist”. Himself handicapped, he considers that the treatment of the question in the media too often boils down to what he calls “stories of overcoming”, when it is not pure and simple sensationalism:
“I think we don’t bother enough to think about what life as a disabled person is like on a day-to-day basis.”