1. Meet Karolyn Gehrig, the queer disabled artist who’s transforming her frequent hospital visits into artwork, a hashtag, and a social movement.
Going to the doctor for anyone can be at best a dull experience — and at worst a traumatic one. Since being diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) in 2003, Gehrig’s been navigating her experience with illness on social media with humor, lip gloss, and her chin held high.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a genetic connective- tissue disorder in which bodies can’t regenerate collagen. This results in frequent joint dislocations, organ rupture, and other issues that can lead to frequent hospital visits: Being sick becomes a regular thing. For Gehrig, it’s a daily dilemma.
3. Gehrig started out doing this project to feel good about her body while going through treatment — her body, her rules, no shame allowed.
“I want everyone who goes into a doctor’s office to feel empowered, and that they can be themselves,” she told BuzzFeed Life. “There’s nothing about being disabled that I should be ashamed of. Taking care of yourself is really important.”
4. Taking the photos is a way for Gehrig to feel powerful in a space that most people often feel powerless.
“The act of taking the photos reasserts my agency over my body in a space that is otherwise uncertain,” she said. “Sharing them transforms it into a way to normalize the experience of living with illness and hopefully lessens the stigma of taking care of yourself.”
Gehrig’s finger splits look a lot like regular finger jewelry — can you really see much difference?
6. And like all of us, she gains strength through the power of Beysus.
#HospitalGlam is about navigating illness through humor and pop culture glamour. Take, for example, Gehrig’s Beyoncé moment. Neurology required that she wear electrodes and a face net for 72 hours, so Gehrig pulled up Beyoncé videos from the artist’s On the Run tour for inspiration. Out comes a glamour moment — complete with cocktail dress and dark eye makeup that even Queen Bey would be proud of.
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