Keke Palmer Opened Up About Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, And Her Message is Important
Keke Palmer shared a post on her Instagram on December 1st and expressed what it has been like to live with acne caused by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The actress and singer uploaded a series of three photos each depicting the severity of acne on all points of her face.
“Hey you guys, for some of you this may be TMI, but for me my platform has always been used for things much greater than me,” Palmer began. “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea. My acne has been so bad that people in my field offered to pay for me to get it fixed.”
PCOS is a health issue caused by the imbalance of reproductive hormones which creates a problem within the ovaries. According to the Office on Women’s Health, it affects 1 in 10 women during the ages when they can bear children. Some of the symptoms include an irregular menstrual cycle, too much hair on the body, acne, thinning hair, weight gain, darkening of the skin, and skin tags. It is a common health problem that unfortunately has no direct cure, but the symptoms can be managed.
Palmer continued in her caption stating, “But it took ME taking a personal look into my family that has a history of diabetes and obesity, to understand what was ACTUALLY happening with me. And unfortunately doctors are people and if you don’t ‘look the part’ they may not think that’s your problem. They may not even suggest it if you ‘look healthy’ whatever that means! I came to a doctor in tears once and all they offered was a measles vaccine…”
When reading this part of her post, it struck a chord. She opened up honestly about her difficulties trying to establish a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately, it is common for Black women to experience difficulties when visiting a doctor’s office. Our symptoms and our pain are not taken seriously in most scenarios.
She vulnerably expressed, “This especially makes me sad because my family struggled for years and no doctor could help them, they actually misled them and just took their money. It’s only because of what my family sacrificed that allows me to even have the resources to share the information I’m sharing with you!”
Black people and other people of color often experience implicit biases at doctors’ offices. Implicit biases are unconscious, automatic associations that are driven by stereotypes that can alter how we perceive others and how we make decisions. In most cases, a doctor’s office is a fast paced environment. Decisions are made quickly, therefore, implicit biases can arise as a result of their fast thinking process. Keke Palmer’s post reminds us of the difficulties that many Black families have experienced during doctor visits. Being misled, mistreated, or not taken seriously is still a quite prevalent and frequent occurrence.
Palmer having a wealthier status informs us that the implicit biases are not exempt from women of color who have higher incomes. In 2018, Serena Williams experienced a horrible situation at the doctor’s after giving birth. The doctor did not listen to her needs and complaints about her experiencing a pulmonary embolism and she was put into a dangerous situation. And although Palmer is experiencing one of the minor symptoms of PCOS, what her family had to endure and the trouble she faced to receive a proper diagnosis, is a struggle that many Black women and other people of color can relate to.
She ends her post with words of encouragement. “The least harmful thing PCOS can bring is acne. To all the people struggling with this please know you’re not alone and that you are still so fucking fine! MY ACNE AIN'T NEVER STOPPED ME. But we don’t have to accept this. Now I can really help KEKE! And I love her so it’s ON. Pray for me on this journey and I will pray for you too. I’m not afraid to show myself to the world and you shouldn’t be either.”
Palmer’s message is a beautiful way to inform the public of this condition, to guide others who might be unaware that they have PCOS, and to unite with those who do.