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No One Ever Comments on Appearance

I recently had the pleasure of attending a conference in San Diego called Digestive Disease Week. I am part of the IBD Social Circle which is hosted by Janssen Biotech and comprised of patient advocates, GI’s and others in the field. They held a Summit which coincided with DDW, in case you were wondering how I was able to attend. 😉

As a side note, we aren’t even permitted to talk about specific medications so it is definitely not just a “pharma-sponsored event” if that is what any of you are thinking. I don’t say that in a critical manner either. I honestly would probably be thinking that if I didn’t know the author and/or never heard of the IBD Social Circle before.

I digress…

The three best parts about IBD conferences for me:

Patients have a voice

Knowing that actual patients are now having a voice in order to share what the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community thinks, feels and needs. I truly feel honored that people in the medical and pharmaceutical industry actually want to hear what I think.

Hope that large companies are working for us

While we hear a lot of negativity surrounding pharmaceutical companies and I know a lot of it is warranted, it does give me some hope that there are billion dollar companies working behind the scenes to help patients who suffer from Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis. As said before, we aren’t even allowed to mention medication names so it is solely about discussing ways to help patients, like us. It is also nice to learn the new treatment options and upcoming research so I can share it with others. Plus, it gives me hope for current and future IBD patients.


Connecting in person with my patient advocate friends.

There are no comments about looking well or healthy

I want to focus on the third part of this article. More specifically, the fact that no one ever makes a comment about someone looking well or looking healthy. I personally never comment on a friend’s appearance unless it is something specific like “I love your hair like that” or “That is such a nice outfit.” I am absolutely sure NEVER to mention anything about weight or specific references to body types that could possibly change size. For example, complementing earrings is a good option given most people’s ears don’t change much with flare-ups, surgeries, and medications. 🙂

I really love knowing I don’t have to worry about getting comments geared toward my appearance when I am around fellow IBD and chronic illness patients. I even notice it in other conferences or in-person meetings I have that are with anyone plugged into the chronic, invisible illness world. It only triggered something (positive) in me this past trip that really made me want to bring it out into the light, and not just something that is sitting in my head.

You never know why someone looks the way they do

While I know the idea of complimenting someone will never go out of style, I do hope any mention of a person’s size does. The fact is, you never really know why someone looks the way they do. They could have lost weight due to a physical illness you know nothing about or from experiencing enormous emotional pain. Someone might have gained a significant amount of weight because of a medication they have to take. Or, he/she may be self-soothing with food in order to bury a traumatic experience.

We just don’t know!

So, why say something?

What do you think? Do you agree with me or not so much? It is totally okay if you don’t! I really do want to hear your take on this topic! Please feel free to share in the comments below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Kelly C (#purpleproject) moderator
    2 months ago

    Love this 🙂

    Always to good to see an old friend in person instead of giving them an internet high-five!

    I’m so glad you feel comfortable in a group that size. I have to admit, I still worry about what people think about my appearance far too often. It’s a curse with this disease. Glad I have friends that understand just how hard it can be.

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    I agree. It’s always hard when people tell me, “wow, you look amazing” because I am thinner now than when I was in high school and college due to CD. But inside, I always think, “goodness, if only you knew.”

    I would give anything to have my strong, curvy body back but for now due to my diagnosis, I am thin and without muscle.

    So I agree 100%. It’s just wiser not to say anything when it comes to weight.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    3 months ago

    I completely agree with you, Marisa!

    First, that is so awesome that you were at the DDW event. 🙂

    And, I also do not comment on someone’s appearance and do not use someone’s weight to determine their health. Perhaps they lost a lot of weight, but it was due to being sick…or as you said, gained weight for the same reason. I was at my “skinniest” (I really hate using that word) leading up to my surgery in 2014 and it was the least healthy I have ever been.

    Thank you for shedding light on it!

    –Julie (Team Member)

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