Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden has said the medication she takes for Crohn’s disease has prompted some people to body shame and abuse her.
The 30-year-old professional dancer first revealed she was suffering from the condition in 2019, in a bid to help other sufferers.
Crohn’s is described by the NHS as a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed.
People with the disease commonly experience phases of intense abdominal pain, severe vomiting, exhaustion and bloody diarrhoea, among other symptoms.
In a heartbreaking interview, Amy told Hello! magazine she has recently experienced a flare-up and the high dose of intravenous steroids she was given in hospital made her gain weight.
The Welsh star said: ‘Although it made me feel better, it creates water retention, making my hips, thighs and bottom bloat and my face puffy.
‘I want to look my best on the dance floor, but when you get photographed in an unflattering light and people make spiteful comments about your size, it can be very hurtful.’
Amy, who has been partnered with stars including Karim Zeroual, JJ Chalmers and Brian Conley on the BBC One show, added that she has been dealing with the effect of medication on her body throughout her career.
Detailing the issues she has faced, she explained: ‘I was either too skinny and people assumed I was anorexic, or I’d bloat from my medication.’
She said she was particularly hurt by one comment, continuing: ‘I’d just come off the dance floor when a dressmaker in the changing room looked at me and said “She has a fat bottom and a thick middle.”
‘I felt so humiliated and embarrassed. I was only 21 and still trying to deal with my condition. As a dancer struggling to fit into tiny costumes, I became very self-conscious.’
However, she said the BBC Strictly team is very supportive of her condition, adding that they are all ‘so kind’ to her.
‘If I’m not feeling well, the boys are so thoughtful and say “Nobody’s lifting Amy today.”
‘Dianne (Buswell) is always checking on me and, when I had to go to hospital, Oti (Mabuse) got into a car the moment she finished filming and turned up at 11pm to see me.
‘Another time when I was ill, Katya (Jones) took me to hospital and sat with me until 5am.”
‘I’m urging people to stop and think before they speak or write an unkind message.
‘Some people are too quick to comment about the way someone looks. They have no idea what the target of their remark is going through.’
The full interview is in Hello! magazine, out now.